Environmental Rules - Are you in compliance?

Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Dairy Specialist, Ohio State University 

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency released the new revisions to the Clean Water Act for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) on December 16, 2002. The staff in the Livestock Permitting Program at the Ohio Department of Agriculture has been working on bringing the fairly new Ohio rules in compliance with the new Federal rules. As the staff has made the suggested changes, these changes have been reviewed by the Concentrated Animal Feeding Facility Advisory Committee. Ohio House Bill 152 has been introduced to the 125th General Assembly to revise Ohio's environmental rules for CAFO to abide by the new Federal rules. In the next few issues of the Buckeye Dairy News, we will be focusing an article on helping dairy farmers being environmentally compliant. All dairy farms, regardless of size, need to be environmentally friendly and can be impacted by the new rules.

Two questions will be addressed this month: 1) What is manure and a discharge? and 2) What are some potential sources of discharges on dairy farms? Manure is defined as "wastes used in or resulting from the production of agricultural animals or direct agricultural products such as milk or eggs, animal excreta, discarded products, bedding, process waster water, process generated waste water, waste feed, silage drainage, and compost products resulting from mortality composting or the composting of animal excreta." A discharge is "to add from a point source to waters of the state." The potential for discharge of manure from a dairy farm exists from the manure storage and handling area, land application of manure, feed storage, silo, uncovered surface lots used for animal housing, milking parlor, and mortality composting. If "manure" from any of these sources enter the waters of the State, then a discharge has occurred and you are in violation of Ohio laws. Is your milk parlor waste being contained? In other words, it is not being discharged directly into a ditch - is it? Hay crop forages will be harvested for silage over the next few weeks, thus are containment measures in place to control silo seepage from becoming a discharge? The environmental laws apply to everyone, not to just the big guns (e.g. permitted operations). The old adage that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" certainly applies to the environmental aspects of livestock production. Whether we like it or not, the food production system in the U.S. is under continued scrutiny by the consuming public. This scrutiny is from the farmstead to the retail center - watch out, there are eyes observing what you are doing.