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IPPA: Farmers have environmental duty

By Staff | Jul 27, 2014

LE MARS – Eldon McAffee, legal counsel for the Iowa Pork Producers Association told producers point-blank they have an environmental responsibility “in protecting, and respecting, environmental quality” and to “comply with Iowa law with regards to our environment.”

McAfee was talking to producers on July 15 in Le Mars, during the first of five statewide pork producer conferences.

“Pork production in Iowa today is almost all confinement production,” he said. “Under our law, an Iowa livestock confinement operation must retain all manure.

“There is no leeway about its discharging into an area. It is total containment.”

McAffee said accepting this requirement is paramount to a responsible pork production operation followed by following an acceptable manure management and application plan with regard to nitrogen levels and crop uptake.

The situation, he said#, requires producers be concerned about facility drainage, upkeep of buildings and underground concrete pits.

“Granted, there can be, and are, accidental discharges that may occur within your operation,” McAffee said. “We all wish they didn’t happen, but when they do the producer must follow the proper guidelines.”

This includes being prepared to address accidental discharges quickly with an emergency action plan at hand, McAfee said.

“It’s essential when you’re working with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources,” he said, “that you call immediately when a spill occurs or a hose breaks and get the agency’s guidance.”

McAffee said producers should have a ready a list of phone numbers of service providers – for instance, backhoe services to begin containing a spill.

“Be ready for these emergencies and hope you never need it,” he said.

Iowa’s pork producers are doing “a good job in their efforts to improve water quality,” he said, due to total manure containment.

“The general public has had, for many years, no idea as to the pork producers’ efforts in this area,” he said. “They hear only about drainage accidents and not how producers work with other agencies to use sound water quality measures.

“We need to let the public know about what we are doing.”

Such water quality efforts, McAffee said, include the case of Plymouth County Pork Producers’ partnership with the three-year $522,300 Deep Creek Water Quality Initiative.

This demonstration project, now underway through the Plymouth Soil and Water Conservation District, focuses on the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy practices addressing water quality priorities within the watershed and reinforcement of compatibility of these practices within conventional farming operations.

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