Cattle Producers Question IDNR Staff at Forum
Primghar, Iowa- Producer interest was keen March 19 at a recent cattle and environment forum in Primghar. Tables were lined as over 100 cattle feeders from a nine-county area questioned representatives from Field Office 3 of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) about environmental regulations for cattle feedlots. The forum was sponsored by the O’Brien County Cattlemen’s Association and Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach.
Cindy Martens, senior environmental specialist, started with a discussion of the definition of adjacency. “According to IDNR, two feedlots are adjacent if one was built on or after July 17, 2002 and are within 1250 feet of each other.” However, Martens indicated that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may consider two feedlots adjacent if they are under common ownership and share a common feeding, manure handling or composting system regardless of the distance between the two facilities.
Martens continued with the importance of understanding how animals are counted. “One beef animal is considered one animal unit and a large concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) is one that contains 1000 or more beef animals. Large CAFOs are required to have minimum runoff controls capable of holding a 25-year, 24-hour rainfall event.” However, there may be cases where a beef feedlot with less than 1000 head will be required to have the minimum runoff control holding a 25-year, 24-hour rainfall event. “If there is another livestock enterprise such as finishing swine which is a large CAFO, then all animals - regardless of species - are considered to be of large CAFO status and would need the minimum runoff controls holding the 25-year, 24-hour rainfall event.”
Paul Pettiti, environmental engineer, pointed out that it is extremely important to get a professional engineer to design a medium-sized feedlot before building occurs. “If a medium-sized feedlot decides to expand to over 1000 head or apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, they are required to have an engineer approve the standards and design. Unfortunately, it is difficult and expensive to go back and get certification on facilities built earlier without engineer design. This means that basically the whole feedlot must be rebuilt costing time and money to the producer.”
Ken Hessenius, Field Office 3 Supervisor concluded stating, “First and foremost, producers need to have solids settling and avoid a discharge to a water of the United States.” He also indicated that IDNR plans to hire additional inspectors to conduct inspections of medium-sized feedlots. IDNR plans to visit 8,000 feedlots over the next five years. He also added “In this year, EPA will be conducting 25-30 inspections in Iowa. They plan to be in northwest Iowa soon.”
ISU Extension and IDNR developed materials producers can use to avoid runoff from their feedlot. A feedyard assessment form can be downloaded from the Iowa Beef Center website and used to assess potential feedlot runoff. Eight county extension offices in northwest Iowa house a free water testing kit for producers to check out and use to determine the ammonia level in a nearby stream. Two manuals, “Small Open Beef Feedlots in Iowa: A Producer Guide” and “Small Open Dairy Lots in Iowa: A Producer Guide” contain timely information for medium-sized beef and dairy open lots.
Counties Main Menu
- County Home
- About Us
- 4-H & Youth
- Agriculture & Environment
- Business & Community
- Families & Healthy Living