Dairy environmental accountability
By Mary Sowerby, UF Regional Dairy Extension
The largest loose-leaf notebook I have ever seen sat in front of Trenton dairy producer Ron St. John at the Feb. 12 meeting of the Manatee and Fanning Springs working group. Its spine was 5.5 inches wide and another 3-inch notebook sat on top of it. The reams of paper found within those two notebooks represented documentation of nutrient (think primarily manure) management of one herd — Alliance Dairy, for one year — 2008.
Every dairy farm in Florida that has 700 or more mature dairy cows is considered a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation). All Florida CAFOs are required to have a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit to operate legally under the Clean Water Act of 1972.
Dairies with less than 700 cows are generally considered AFOs (Animal Feeding Operations) and are not required to have a NPDES permit. However, a new set of Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) rules are currently being written for AFOs.
The price tag to assemble the information needed to obtain a NPDES permit is generally over $60,000. It usually takes an environmental engineer to write it and it is required to have an engineer sign off on it. Then the never-ending record keeping begins. Read More
Just about anything you read that is negative toward modern livestock production tries to key on the idea that producers don’t care about the environment. They also say the regulations and science behind the nutrient management plans don’t work. While most of the people complaining probably have never studied a plan nor are they educated enough on environmental studies to give an expert opinion on whether a plan will work, they continue to spread falsehoods about animal agriculture. This article give a good brief run down of what most producers have to go through in order to comply with regulations.