Helping Open Beef Feedlot Producers Be Environmentally Proactive

Beth Ellen Doran, Field Specialist-Beef, Northwest Iowa


Feedlot producers that signed up five years ago for the Open Feedlot Plan agreed to bring their open beef feedlots into compliance with state and federal regulations by March, 2006.  This is an expectation of both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  In December, 2005, open Iowa feedlots were in plain view with eight water quality violations in Carroll County and major media coverage. 


The Iowa Beef Center, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa Cattlemens Association scheduled water quality workshops on March 3 in Carroll and March 30 in Sheldon to address eight environmental topics: expectations, siting, data monitoring, potential funding, design, economic benefits of manure, best management practices and producer success stories.  These meetings were attended by 200 and 158 producers in Carroll and Sheldon, respectively.


All stations were considered somewhat or very helpful.  However, attendees rated Operation and Maintenance as the most helpful session, closely followed by Technical Advice and Resources.  Few people visited the Data/Monitoring station, but it was a display and not staffed with a presenter.  One producer commented, It is very important to repeat as much of this information as possible.  Good information.

Perhaps a better measure of educational impact occurred in April and May when the Environmental Protection Agency visited 20 selected feedlots in western Iowa.  They inspected northwest and southwest Iowa feedlots on April 5 and April 17-20, respectively.  On May 4 (after a big rain event), the Environmental Protection Agency visited additional feedlots in Northwest Iowa.

Feedlot producers are listening and becoming environmentally proactive.  Most of the visits did not involve further action on the part of the producer or the Environmental Protection Agency.  Only a few cases involved follow-up.  Several involved a question of legal interpretation.

The bottom line is that the majority of open beef feedlot producers are either compliant or well along in becoming compliant with state and federal environmental regulations.  Beef producers are implementing and practicing good stewardship.           

August 10, 2006

POW #140 Iowa Beef Center

Page last updated: September 5, 2006
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