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April 9, 2009

Producers Meet With Commission to Discuss Animal Health Ordinance

Area livestock producers met with the Scotland County Commission at a special meeting held April 1st at Lakeview Community Center in Rutledge. Between 100 and 150 people were present for the gathering.

During the March 26th regular meeting of the commission, the county had indicated plans to hold a pair of public hearings regarding the a proposed animal health ordinance it had been working on with the Scotland County Concerned Citizens group.

During the session, a number of livestock producers spoke with the commissioners regarding questions about the health ordinance. It was announced that the producers would be holding a meeting April 1st, and the commission agreed to postpone the public hearing on the proposed ordinance until after meeting with the producers to discuss their concerns.

The following are the minutes of the meeting as presented by the Scotland County Clerk’s office.

Clyde Zimmerman opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and stating that this was an informational meeting to learn more about ordinances and how they work. Mr. Zimmerman introduced the Scotland County Commission and asked them to individually speak about some of the problems and concerns they have had to address concerning Scotland County’s health ordinance in particular.

Commissioner Paul Campbell addressed the audience. He stated that Scotland County did have an ordinance but because of enforcement issues the Commissioners scrapped it. Commissioner Campbell admitted that they have been working with a group of individuals to see if another ordinance could possibly be adopted; however, Commissioner Campbell reiterated that this was just talk. Nothing has formally been done. Commissioner Campbell stated that some points have come to the Commission that do not reflect well on the CAFOs in the County. Commissioner Campbell addressed the issue of applicators running up and down the road from the lagoon to the land where the manure is going to be applied. In this case manure is spilled on the roads and the neighbors do not like it. Additionally these full applicators are tearing up the county roads. Commissioner Campbell asked the producers to try to use good judgment when hauling and spreading manure. Be as clean as possible when hauling manure and, while the process is weather permitting, try to work the manure in as quickly as possible when spreading to help the smell and nutrient levels. Problems from dairies are getting blamed on CAFOs. Commissioner Campbell asked the producers to be aware of their neighbors. Please watch for drainage on your neighbor’s property if you cannot work the manure in quickly. He restated that these are merely points the Commission was asked to address. The Commission is not trying to govern the dairies. He then asked Presiding Commissioner Mike Stephenson and Commissioner Denis (Deny) Clatt if they had anything else to address.

Presiding Commissioner Stephenson and Commissioner Clatt replied that Commissioner Campbell had addressed all their concerns.

Mr. Edwin Brubaker addressed the audience about local dairy farms. He stated that there are currently 39 dairy farms in Scotland County, and those dairy farms employee approximately 50 families. He commented that these 39 dairies combined have around 3,000 cows, and last year those farms generated nearly $10 million in revenue. According to his statistics, each dollar generated by these dairies turns over seven times within the County equaling a $70 million impact on the County. The 39 local dairies paid approximately $100,000.00 in county taxes. Mr. Brubaker then spoke about some concerns he had with the proposed health ordinance. He stated that if a producer expands his business he will fall under the proposed ordinance because of the way it is written. He was also concerned about the citizens advisory board being composed of “non-CAFO” people. Mr. Brubaker felt that non-producers would not be qualified to be on the advisory board, and suggested that it would be difficult to determine who, besides employees of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR), would be qualified to be on that board. Mr. Brubaker said that all Grade A dairies must have an approved sewage system for their homes; whereas most country homes merely drain sewage into the grader ditch. He asked how water quality was affected differently between manure from a confinement and manure from a home. Mr. Brubaker addressed the problem of manure being spilled on the roads. He believes that all producers have the responsibility to be a good neighbor. While mistakes happen, there should be a plan of action in place to clean the spill. He suggested that the careless producers should have to clean the mess and fix the road. Mr. Brubaker also commented that grain trucks also tear up the rock roads, but they do not stink.

Dave Drenum with Missouri Dairy Association stated that there are only 18 counties in Missouri with a health ordinance. The Dairy Association is opposed to these ordinances because more restrictions results in increased costs to the producers. Missouri is a milk-deficit state (i.e. we haul more milk into Missouri than we produce), so he believes that the state needs more dairies. Increasing cost of production is not going to increase dairies. Mr. Drenum clarified that 210 cows equals 300 Animal Units (AU) (0.7 of a cow equals 1 AU). Producers must remember that all animals, hogs, dairy cows, dry cows, etc., are considered when figuring total AUs. The average dairy is 65 cows, however most dairies around here are smaller. Mr. Drenum believes that the proposed ordinance does not offer practical solutions for producers. The proposed ordinance mandates disposal of dead animals within 24 hours. This is not feasible because new laws require dead animals to have the brain and spinal cord removed. Not many rendering companies can do this without passing the cost on to the producer. Mr. Drenum also said that knifing in the manure would not be feasible. He expressed the need to adopt a Best Management Practices policy, not an ordinance. Dairies do not need an ordinance because they are highly inspected since they are dealing with a perishable product. Mr. Drenum introduced Kevin Frankenbock from Marion County, and stated that Barry Stevens at the University would be willing to help anyone with questions about this ordinance.

Jerry Foster, Cargill Environmental Manager (and past DNR employee) stated that 0.7 of a cow is 1 AU, and an animal counts once it is weaned. Mr. Foster informed the audience that DNR has composed an odor commission, but it only regulates Class IA Operations (Sharp’s is the only one in the state). This commission is backed by the Missouri Clean Air Commission. Mr. Foster said that DNR is also looking at new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) laws and what effect they would have on Missouri Law affecting CAFOs.

Gigi Wahba asked Mr. Brubaker if dairies would be affected by this ordinance because they did not confine their cows for a 45-day period. Mr. Brubaker said that they take their cows to the barns every day, and that counts as confinement, thus the ordinance affects the dairies.

Mr. Drenum recognized Larry Frederick from Baring, who is also with the Missouri Dairy Association. He then asked Mr. Foster to answer questions from the audience.

Mr. Foster began by clarifying that he is no longer a DNR employee; he is a Cargill employee. If anyone has any questions for DNR he advised them to contact Joe England at DNR in Jefferson City (800) 361-4827 or Joe Bowdish at the Macon office.

Presiding Commissioner Stephenson asked Mr. Foster if he felt that state regulations were coming closer to regulating these CAFOs.

Mr. Foster replied that he felt state regulations were becoming more strict because they are developing a new nutrient management technical standard.

Mr. Jay Sensenig asked Mr. Foster about the proposed ordinance requiring the producer to inject manure 8 inches deep.

Mr. Foster stated that injecting manure 8 inches is a pretty severe requirement. He also replied that injecting the manure too deep causes more problems. For example, manure injected past the level where breakdown occurs would cause the manure to stay in the ground. Mr. Foster referred the question to Bryan Ripland, agronomist with Pennacal.

Mr. Ripland replied that he would be worried about injecting manure 8 inches because the root systems cannot get down that far in a wet year. Mr. Ripland went on to say that this proposed ordinance has some scary things in it. He asked who would regulate the ordinance. Who would be conducting the soil testing, and paying for that testing with the price of things going up? He suggested spending that money on educating producers as to what the County expected of them. Perhaps, he suggested, the County would be better off being proactive than reactive.

Commissioner Clatt asked Mr. Ripland how deep he would knife in the manure. Mr. Ripland replied that he thought 6 inches was ideal that way the manure is just covered and gets to where the roots are located.

Mr. Foster asked if injecting was always appropriate as some land is not suitable for injecting.

Mr. Brubaker commented that it is nearly impossible to inject dairy manure.

Mr. Ripland agreed with Mr. Brubaker as diary manure has more solids than hog manure. A larger injector would be required and add cost to the producer.

Commissioner Clatt asked Mr. Brubaker if he could disc in the manure immediately after spreading. Brubaker replied that the manure had to have time to dry before discing it in or he would get stuck.

Mr. Ripland said it would take a lot of time and money to do the testing this proposed ordinance requires and it would be difficult to prove the testing was actually being done. He also said the producers would have to be educated on how to do the testing.

Ms. Wahba stated that she is part of the group advocating the ordinance. She said that hog manure is different from dairy manure because of the antibiotics and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) being fed to the hogs. She suggested that the dairymen were being told this ordinance would apply to them in the future and she does not think they should believe it.

Mr. Ripland asked Ms. Wahba to whom this ordinance would apply. Ms. Wahba replied that this ordinance would apply to animals that are indoors all the time. There are 8 to 10 facilities in the County now, but the “factory” system has problems.

Mr. Ripland asked Ms. Wahba if those animals in confinements are treated differently from animals on pasture.

Ms. Wahba responded that animals in confinements are treated differently because they are fed large amounts of antibiotics and GMOs.

A gentleman stated that he had sows outside for years and recently moved them inside. Now he has large amounts of manure to haul out of his pit. He would like to know where all that manure went when the sows were outside.

Mr. Foster addressed the Commission by asking them to consider three questions. First, where do regulations stop? He questioned if the Commission was going to stop farmers from planting round-up ready soybeans (also a GMO)? He asked the Commission to consider land values. In his experience, land values are lower where ordinances are in place. Last he asked the Commission to consider what was driving this ordinance-health, social, or economic concerns.

An individual asked how manure compared to anhydrous.

Mr. Foster replied that manure is more natural than anhydrous; however, all things should be used in moderation. Anhydrous has more phosphorus than manure, which burns up earthworms and other microbes. As long as manure is not injected too deep it works with microbes to add organic matter (which soil in this area is lacking) to the soil. Anhydrous breaks down organic matter.

Kevin Frankenbock from Marion County said that Marion County threw out their ordinance. The Commission had a group of people come to them requesting to reinstate the ordinance. The Commission said they had no intent to do so, so the group went to the County Health Board and got the ordinance reinstated. He said that anytime the county did a referendum the producers won hands down.

Presiding Commissioner Stephenson apologized to all the producers in attendance for ever supporting the ordinance, and stated that he would continue to oppose reinstating the ordinance. He was received with ovations from the crowd.

Tim Steinkamp with Cargill spoke about confining animals and feeding them GMOs. He stated that this ordinance is a vehicle to stop commercial livestock production in Scotland County.

Dee Ruth asked the Commission how they would handle this proposed ordinance as they did not enforce the previous ordinance. She feels that producers need only be regulated by DNR.

A gentleman asked how much revenue a CAFO generates.

Mr. Frakenbock estimated that a 5,000 head unit would generate approximately $7,000 in tax revenue.

The Commission asked if they had this ordinance and it drove the numbers down what would they do to make up the revenue for schools.

The Commission replied that they did not heavily rely on this income, but if they did the only option they would have would be to raise the tax levy for the school.

Garth Lloyd said that he detected fear in the room. He said that the last ordinance did not affect the dairies and this one would not either.

Many dairy producers stated that this ordinance would affect them.

Mr. Clyde Zimmerman closed the meeting.


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