Spring 2007

New Environmental Program to Provide You Results

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By Carrie Keppy, Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University Extension

Tractor tankerEnvironmental management has become more and more challenging to producers as new regulations develop and public concern increases. The Iowa Pork Industry Center has the opportunity to work with you or a group of producers on a plan to address the management concerns related to your operation. Through the Smithfield-Iowa Attorney General agreement, monies were made available to work with producers to improve environmental management in the state of Iowa for pork producers. The program is called an environmental management system or EMS.

What is an EMS?

An environmental management system is an organized approach to managing environmental impacts.
An EMS:

  • is voluntary;
  • leads to more orderly, consistent and comprehensive environmental management;
  • provides standard procedures and steps designed to  support continual improvement;
  • provides a framework for a producer to meet their  environmental goals and objectives;
  • increases a producer’s confidence that they are addressing all issues related to their farm’s impact on the environment;
  • is dynamic and adaptable;
  • is results-oriented; and
  • emphasizes pollution prevention.

An EMS does not:

  • establish additional environmental compliance  requirements.
  • establish any performance levels.

An EMS follows a Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, or PDCA, and has similar elements to quality programs farms now use. Following a PDCA model leads to continuous improvement, an important feature of an EMS.

EMS ModelPolicy is the farm’s own mission statement that includes a commitment to regulatory compliance, environmental stewardship and continuous improvement.

Plan - Identify environmental impacts and legal and other requirements. Establish environmental performance goals and objectives, and develop plans for addressing environmental impacts.

Do - Implement plans and procedures. Establish roles and responsibilities.

Check - Implement techniques for measuring progress towards goals and for addressing EMS problems and corrective/preventive actions. Establish audit processes.

Act - Implement management review procedures, improvement plans, and adjustments (to goals, procedures, etc.).

What are the benefits?

Producers who implement an EMS have greater confidence that they are doing the right things for regulation and stewardship. They may also benefit from enhanced compliance, increased employee environmental awareness, improved operating efficiencies, improved public perception and better understanding of root causes of noncompliance.

An EMS takes an “umbrella” approach and considers day-to-day activities, infrequent activities (such as sludge clean-out), and potential accidents or emergencies that may impact the environment. It is a method to be proactive through organized practices and record keeping rather than reactive and it is a systematic way to focus on priorities without having things fall through the cracks. An EMS also allows for a farm to consider cumulative impacts from various activities that combined may have more of an impact than when considered singly.

While an EMS doesn’t mean necessarily mean immediate improvement, one pork producer who has implemented the program said it’s been a good thing.

“Although EMS has not instantaneously corrected all of my problems, it has given me the vision needed to address environmental impacts related to my farm,” Chuck Stokes said. “Within the year, I feel confident that my overall operation will be dramatically enhanced by the implementation of EMS.”

If you’re interested in improving your operation’s environmental performance, management techniques and efficiency; would like to increase employee awareness and accountability, or want to reduce operating expenses and liability, an EMS is a great answer.

How to participate

For more information about EMS and how it can work for your operation, contact Carrie Keppy by e-mail at ctkeppy@iastate.edu or by phone at (515) 979-6954.

 

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