The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has scheduled six hearings in January and early February around the state to gather comments on rules governing manure application on frozen and snow-covered fields, part of a larger livestock rule package proposed by the agency.
The rules, which were approved by the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission (EPC), were drafted from legislation passed by the state legislature in 2009. The rules limit application of liquid manure on frozen ground from Feb. 1 to April 1 and on snow-covered ground from Dec. 21 through April 1. The measure provided exemptions for farmers facing unusual circumstances, such as weather or storage-capacity limits, to apply manure on frozen or snow-covered ground under a plan approved by the DNR. The legislation also exempts livestock operations that are 500 units or smaller.
Will DNR require a farm to have or build manure storage?
The legislation, which was supported by the Iowa Farm Bureau, preempted proposed EPC rules that would have been more restrictive and did not contain emergency provisions. However, Farm Bureau and some of the members who serve on the EPC are concerned that the proposed DNR rules would require a farm to have, or to build, at least 100 days of manure storage before the DNR would grant an emergency exemption to apply liquid manure on frozen or snow-covered ground between Dec. 21 and April 1.
A storage requirement wasn't included in the legislation and would be tough on farmers with smaller facilities and nurseries, which were not designed to hold manure for long periods of time, says EPC commissioner Gene Ver Steeg, a hog farmer from Lyon County in Iowa's northwest corner.
The proposed DNR rules would take effect in the winter of 2010-2011. For the 2009-10 winter, DNR officials say they do not intend to impose the manure storage requirement for farmers requesting an emergency exemption.
Hearings around the state to get underway January 12
Here's the schedule of dates and locations for the DNR hearings:
* Jan. 12—4:30 p.m. at the Orange City Gymnasium, 125 Central Ave. SE in Orange City
* Jan. 13—1:30 p.m. in Room 115 at Northeast Iowa Community College, highway 150 south of Calmar
* Jan. 15—11 a.m. at Wallace State Office Building auditorium, 502 E. 9th St., in Des Moines
* Jan. 15— 4:30 p.m. at Cass County Community Center, 805 W. 10th St., in Atlantic
* Jan. 20—1:30 p.m. at Marr Park Conservation Center, 2943 Highway 92 in Ainsworth
* Feb. 1—1:30 p.m. at North Iowa Area Community College Conference Center, 500 College Dr. in Mason City
Written comments can be submitted to Gene Tinker at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Wallace State Office Building, 502 E. 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50319. They can also be faxed to 515-281-8895 or emailed to [email protected]