The cold winter of 2014 didn't slow Iowa producer's interest in improving or expanding their livestock farms. The Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers provides services to Iowa livestock farmers seeking to begin a livestock enterprise or expand current operations. CSIF offers help in interpreting rules and regulations and how they apply to your farm operation. CSIF staff answer calls over the phone and visit farms, providing advice on ways to ensure a site is in compliance with livestock rules and regulations. The service is available free of charge. This winter CSIF received a record setting number of phone calls. Callers want advice on selecting a site for new barns, neighbor relations and questions regarding regulatory compliance.
"January was an all-time record setting month for phone calls," says Brian Waddingham, executive director of CSIF. Staff members handled more than 80 phone calls that month from farmers. The majority of the calls this year have been questions about open feedlot compliance with new regulations, as farmers are wanting to make sure their feedlot is in compliance. "They want the Coalition to provide a second set of eyes before the Iowa Department of Natural Resources stops by their farm and inspects the livestock facilities," he says.
Many questions about Iowa DNR "work plan agreement"
On September 11, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 and the Iowa DNR signed a "work plan agreement" that established guidelines for evaluations of livestock and poultry farms. The work plan stems from a petition filed by environmental groups in 2007 claiming the Iowa DNR doesn't comply with the federal Clean Water Act and that the EPA should take over the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. This work plan agreement is designed to strengthen Iowa's implementation of the federally authorized NPDES program and it is an important step toward retaining Iowa DNR's authority to implement the federal program in Iowa.
The work plan obligates DNR to evaluate livestock farms larger than 300 animal units and document whether the farms are in compliance with the Clean Water Act. It is estimated that more than 8,500 livestock and poultry farms in Iowa will be evaluated during the next five years.
Phone calls, farm visits by CSIF staff are free and confidential
CSIF staff members visit farms and provide advice on ways to ensure a site is in compliance with regulations. Waddingham says the CSIF staff usually finds minor problems that require a simple correction or improvement to ensure the farm is in compliance. Otherwise, CSIF staff will suggest that the farmer call in the expertise of an engineer to make sure a livestock system is designed properly. He suggests livestock producers take a look at their farm from Google Earth to get an idea of what the farm looks like from above. He says CSIF staff can help in this process by serving as a "second set of eyes" to make sure the livestock farm and facilities are in compliance.
CSIF staff are available for farm visits free of charge. Phone calls and farm visits are confidential. For more information visit the CSIF website or call to schedule a farm visit by contacting the Coalition staff at 800-932-2436.