affecting livestock production
by Jeff Lorimor, extension agricultural and biosystems engineer
Three major events have occurred in the past 12 months to keep livestock production on the front burner in Iowa.
In January, Department of Natural Resources implemented new rules regulating the construction of earthen and concrete structures.
In March, the Iowa Supreme Court struck down Humboldt County's ordinances giving the county control over livestock operations.
The 1998 legislature is considering a number of bills proposing new laws about livestock production and environmental protection.
On Jan. 21, 1998 a number of new rules regarding the construction of manure holding facilities took effect.
For earthen structures (either pits or lagoons):
1. The bottom of the structure should be 4 feet above the groundwater table.
2. A synthetic liner must be used if the bottom is only 2 feet above the water table.
3. A slurry trench must be used if the bottom is below the water table. A slurry trench is a 2-foot-wide trench all the way around the storage that is backfilled with a mixture of native soil and bentonite clay. It's impermeable and will keep the water table away from the storage.
4. The compacted clay liner must be 12 inches thick if surrounding soil is good (impermeable). It must be 24 inches thick if the surrounding soil is porous, such as sand or gravel.
5. The water table around a storage can be artificially lowered with a tile line, but the tile must have a gravity outlet. It cannot be a pumped outlet. The tile must have access to allow monitoring of the effluent.
6. Erosion control techniques must be used on the corners, sides, under inlet pipes, and near pumpout locations to protect the compacted liner from eroding.
7. No new or expanded earthen structures are permitted in Ag Drainage Well areas.
For concrete pits:
1. The bottom must be at least 5 inches thick.
2. For pits up to 10 feet deep, the minimum wall thickness is 6 inches.
3. For pits over 10 feet deep, the minimum wall thickness is 8 inches.
4. The minimum concrete strength must be 4,000 psi (pounds per square inch).
5. The minimum steel for both walls and floors is 1/2-inch bars, placed 18 inches apart both ways (vertically and horizontally).
6. Soil-formed walls are not permitted. Rigid wood or steel forms must be used to pour concrete.
Iowa Supreme Court Ruling
A number of pork producers challenged four Humboldt County ordinances giving local officials control over hog lots. After a district court judge upheld some of the ordinances, the ruling was appealed. On March 5, 1998, the Iowa Supreme Court handed down a 62-page ruling reversing and remanding the lower courts' rulings. The Supreme Court ruling states:
1. The ordinances are not zoning regulations because they didn't regulate use by district.
2. The legislature has not specifically preempted local regulations if the regulations don't conflict with state laws. The court specifically did not take a position on whether statewide or local regulation is more desirable.
3. The ordinances that were challenged are invalid because they are "irreconcilable with state laws." They revise the regulatory scheme.
Legislation under consideration
A number of bills have been introduced this legislative session to address the question of livestock production. In general they focus on:
1. Certifying manure applicators to be sure they know how to properly manage manure.
2. Proposing moratoriums or outright bans on earthen manure storage structures.
3. Rewriting portions of House File 519 to soften the nuisance wording.
4. Reasserting state control, while giving county supervisors strengthened appeal rights.
5. Increasing some of the required separation distances.
6. Increasing indemnity fund fees have been proposed. The fee was established by House File 519 to pay for unexpected cleanups.
© 1997-2004, Iowa State University. All rights reserved.
Page last updated October 5, 2004
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