By KRISS NELSON
DES MOINES – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources took the opportunity at the Iowa Pork Congress to introduce its new eMMP, which was developed to provide farmers a better way to file their annual manure management plan updates.
In addition to introducing the eMMP, DNR specialists were on hand to help educate producers face-to-face on the new process that will soon be available.
They also held an educational seminar during the show.
“We were available to educate them on the new application that is going to be available on March 1,” said Jeff Prier, senior environmental specialist for the Iowa DNR. “We gave them kind of a heads up and introduced them to it and let them see what it’s going to look like and give them a real brief on here’s how you do it.”
For those producers that didn’t have the chance to stop by learn more about the new eMMP program, a webinar, titled “Save Time and Money – File Your MMP Online,” will be held on Feb. 28.
“If producers go to the DNR’s website and look up the eMMP, there will be a link on there that will allow them to register for the webinar,” said Prier.
During the webinar, producers will learn how to create their account and given a tutorial on how to submit the short form and how to make payments in order to file their annual manure plan updates.
Londa Witte, administrative assistant for the Iowa DNR, said producers will be able to make payments online. If they use a credit card, they can expect a $5 fee per transaction, not per site. They can also pay through e-check or they will still have the chance to mail in their payment.
When the new eMMP will becomes available March 1, producers will receive their DNR-issued PIN to log in to their account. They can fill out the annual MMP short form online and then choose one of the several options available to pay their annual compliance fees.
Prier stressed that whoever has the current animal feeding operations (AFO) application as the site owner is where the PIN will be sent to.
“If you have a consultant that submits your MMP, they’re not going to get the PIN number. It is the site owner,” said Prier. “The availability access is controlled by the PIN number.”
According to the DNR, farmers and consultants can save time, effort and mileage by filing the required plans from their home, office or smartphone instead of having to drive to each county office where the manure-applied fields are located in.
If everyone takes advantage of the eMMP, the DNR estimates it can save Iowa producers at least 178,000 miles per year from having to drive to each county to file their MMP.
“That’s a big benefit,” said Prier. “They don’t have to drive to each county anymore.”
“They can do it on their phone, in the field. If time’s getting short this will save time and miles,” Witte added. “This should also help them to submit their MMPs timely so they won’t get the violation of notice letter. You can just be done.”
She also said if producers choose to use the new online program, they will get a 60 day e-mail reminder that their MMP is due.
“A lot of people ask where their reminder letter is. We stopped sending those out,” she said. “Now, they have the ability to get the reminder again through e-mail. A big benefit is that reminder.”
Producer Dale Rolwes, from Cascade, stopped by the Iowa DNR booth to learn more about the new eMMP and said he plans to take advantage of the new online filing system.
“It sounds like a good plan,” said Rolwes. “They don’t send a reminder in the mail and I have been late with my plans because of that. This will also save time and I will now be sure to get them done on time.
The eMMP shouldn’t only be helpful to the producers, but for the county offices as well.
According to the DNR, the eMMP frees up county staff from signing each of the 7,000-plus plans, signing corrections to those plans and storing the paper forms. Instead, counties will receive an e-mail when plans are completed. Filing online will reduce the number of file cabinets needed to store paper records in county and DNR offices.
“It took a group effort and was sometimes challenging to meet the needs of producers, their consultants, 99 counties and the folks at DNR who process these plans,” said Ted Peteren, DNR coordinator of the project. “Not everyone got exactly what they wanted, but the final product will benefit everyone.”
Prier said the eMMP is expected to be very user-friendly.
“There’s some fail-safe steps that won’t let them submit the short form unless it is complete,” he said.
Witte added that if a producer pays electronically, they will get notification right away that their MMP has been submitted. Otherwise, if they choose to send in a check, they will be waiting until the check has cleared.
“That is a benefit for the producer because with the paper forms, the only way they would know if their plan was approved was looking to see if the DNR had cashed their check,” said Prier. “When online with the eMMP, you can see that application was approved and submitted when you pay online.”
“Right now, we have to process all of those checks,” Witte added. “They have to go to budget and finance right now and if it’s paid online we don’t have to do that. The turnaround will be much faster.”
What is an MMP?
Prier said MMPs are required for confinement sites with more than 500 animal units or 1,250 finishing hogs. The MMPs help farmers to plan the amount of manure that can be land-applied based on nitrogen and phosphorus needs of the upcoming crop.
“The plan itself works with the Iowa Phosphorus Index and the RUSLE2 calculators to demonstrate an appropriate application rate for the crops being grown,” he said. “Producers provide their soil samples, their P-index, their RUSLE2 calculations for their fields they are going to potentially apply on and their application rate calculations.”
Witte said an MMP is just a plan.
“Keep in mind, a plan is just a plan depending on weather and timing,” she said. “It’s just a plan. It changes. It’s fine as long as they keep that all up to date.”
MMPs are submitted every year, and every fourth year, producers are required to test soils for nutrient levels and update their complete MMPs.
The complete MMP, Witte said, will still have to be done on paper at each county as that step is not available online.
She added the paper option for MMPs are not going away and is still an option for producers. However, they expect the new eMMP option will appeal to the younger generation.
“It’s a generational thing,” she said. “The younger generation, as they are taking over the family farms, they might want to do this.”
The DNR has partnered with groups to develop the eMMP for over a year. They have also relied on feedback from producers and consultants.
Witte said they have had different producers and consultants come to the DNR office and try out the new system. This has proven helpful for the design for the new online site.
She added that the public will continue to have access to information about the status of individual plans.
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