Environmental Rules for Animal Agriculture - Who Are You Going to Call?

Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Dairy Specialist, Ohio State University 

There was a cartoon a few years ago, the "Ghostbusters". The central focus was that evil ghosts prowled upon people and capturing the ghosts required the special skills of the "Ghostbusters". The theme song contained the words, "So who are you going to call, The Ghostbusters." Sometimes I think environmental risks are viewed somewhat like ghosts in the cartoon. Environmental risks are everywhere but not at my place, at least I don't think so. But come to think about it, I really haven't given it much thought. Then it happens, the Environmental Busters got a tip from someone and they are invading - "What is going on, who are these people?" Or better yet, maybe you have questions to ask so that you can be better prepared at lowering environmental risks - so who are you going to call? Well, in Ohio it's not that simple - we have many different agencies with different responsibilities. So let's review the primary agencies that can help us with environmental compliance on livestock farms:

Ohio Department of Agriculture: regulatory authority for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) and monitors point source discharge from animal facilities, (614) 387-0470, lepp@odant.agri.state.oh.us, http://www.state.oh.us/agr/LivestockRegIndex.HTML

Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR):
Division of Wildlife - protects waterways thorough enforcement of stream litter and wildlife protection laws, 1-800-wildlife, wildinfo@dnr.state.oh.us, http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/wildlife/default.htm
Division of Soil and Water Conservation - Administers non-point source pollution control assistance, state cost share, and pollution abatement complaint programs, (614) 265-6610, dswc@dnr.state.oh.us, http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/soilandwater

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Division of Surface Water): authority to implement laws and regulations regarding water quality standards, (614) 644- 2001, http://www.epa.state.oh.us/dsw

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service: provides information on soil capabilities, surface and subsurface drainage, and erosion control measures, (614) 255-2472, http://www.oh.nrcs.usda.gov; locate local offices at http://www.oh.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/directory/directories.html

The most accessible, local contact that will help you follow through the channels of environmental rules is the ODNR-Division of Soil and Water Conservation. Each county has a local soil and water conservation district (SWCD). You can find the phone number in the local telephone directory or go to: http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/soilandwater/swcds.htm. Being PROACTIVE is good. Get to know the SWCD personnel and the assistance that they can provide.

Note: Ohio House Bill 152 was introduced to the 125th General Assembly to revise Ohio's environmental rules for CAFO to abide by the new Federal rules. The Ohio Legislature passed Bill 152 and it remains in Governor Taft's office for signature.