Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Iowa bill would set period, not runoff standards, to spread manure; anti-pollution officials object

An Iowa bill has drawn criticism from the state's Department of Natural Resources and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Current law allows spreading manure at any time during the year but prohibits runoff from fields. The bill would ban the spread of manure from Feb. 1 until April 1. The environmental agencies say that would allow farmers to spread manure while there is snow on the ground, increasing the likelihood of runoff and water pollution.

"EPA officials could determine that the state is not in compliance with federal environmental rules and take over that part of operations from the state," said Richard Leopold, director of the state agency. "That could present major problems because Iowa would be less able to determine the best methods of meeting environmental regulations."

Efforts are being made to amend the bill so that it resolves EPA objections. One proposed amendment would ban the application of liquid manure from Dec. 21 to April 1. Environmentalists are also concerned that "the manure being discussed is largely the product of massive industrial operations," or confined animal feeding operations, writes Jason Clayworth of The Des Moines Register. The manure produced by many industrial farm operation is in a liquid form, making it more prone to runoff into drinking water. (Read more)

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