Friday, November 02, 2012

N.Y. governor helps small dairy farmers expand by relaxing manure rule, but not everyone is happy

John Bach loads manure at his New York farm.
(Watertown Daily Times photo by Justin Sorenson)
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's plan to help small dairy farmers enlarge their businesses by lowering manure-runoff standards has concerned the state's environmentalists. Opponents acknowledge the move will encourage milk production in the state, but say it would also contaminate water and endanger wildlife, Ted Booker of the Watertown Daily Times reports.

Cuomo's plan would raise the enrollment threshold for the state's Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations program to 299 cows from 200. The program requires farmers with more than the threshold "to add storage facilities and lagoons for holding manure during the winter," Booker notes. They also must hire a certified planner to develop a management plan for controlling waste and conduct annual inspections.

The change will encourage dairy farmers to expand. Carthage dairy farmer Lee Bach said that adding just 30 cows would make him about $15,000 to $20,000 a month after bills.

Katherine R. Nadeau, director of water and natural resources for the Environmental Advocates of New York, told Booker that manure's high nutrient level is detrimental to fish, plants and wildlife when it mixes with water. She said the state should explore other ways to offer farmers some help in dealing with CAFO requirements. (Read more)

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