Regulation changes take effect for state’s livestock producers

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 2, 2000

David Littetran has this advice for Minnesota pork producers in year 2000: Sell the manure.

Sunday, January 02, 2000

David Littetran has this advice for Minnesota pork producers in year 2000: Sell the manure. Pound for pound it’s more valuable than the hogs.

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He also wants pork producers to remember to lock all doors and gates.

"You don’t want anyone sneaking in at night and dropping off more hogs," the pundit said.

Some pork producers may still feel raising hogs stinks – literally and figuratively. When prices plummeted in late 1998 and grain prices sagged in 1999, it may have seemed like the end of the livestock production world was coming.

That won’t happen, but more changes are ahead for livestock producers and once again, it is livestock producers who may feel targeted because of the demand for their product.

The next change is more regulations in year 2000.

Write this down, livestock producers: By October 1, 2001, all feedlots, pastures and manure storage areas with 50 animal units (or 10 animal units in shoreland areas) must register by way of a permit application, a specific registration form or inclusion on a County Level No. II or III feedlot inventory.

A feedlot rules informational meeting will be held at Mazeppa, Jan. 11. Sponsored by the Extension Services of Goodhue, Wabasha, Olmsted and Dodge counties, producers will hear the latest information about the proposed Minnesota Chapter 7020 feedlot rules.

Staff from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Rochester offices will be on hand to outline the proposed rule changes and answer questions. Nearly any farm with livestock, including the smallest ones, will be affected by the proposed permanent rules. Regardless of the farm or feedlot size, items such as manure storage, transportation and utilitizaton are expected to affect all livestock producers.

For instance, the person living in the countryside with only a couple of horses who for years has piled manure out behind a barn for long periods of time before spreading it on the land may be in violation of the new feedlot rules.

Also, the crop farmer who lives near a large poultry operation and takes poultry litter as a soil amendment could also be in violation of the rules if the litter is taken out and stockpiled for later spreading.

There are four major parts of the rule changes: registration for animal feedlots, manure storage areas and pastures; the permit program; requirements for counties accepting delegation to process feedlot permits; and standards for discharge, design, construction, operation and closure.

That’s what Lowell Franzen and Dan Vermilyea told a room full of Mower County livestock producers Wednesday in the county commissioners’ meeting room at the government center in Austin.

The feedlot officers were impressed with the turnout and the cooperative spirit shown by producers racing to meeting the Dec. 31 deadline for applying for a permit.

The Dec. 31 deadline was important, because it allowed producers to be permitted under Mower County’s feedlot rules.

Beginning Monday, producers will have to obtain a conditional use permit for their feedlot operations.

"That was their last chance," said Franzen. "They must either have obtained a feedlot permit from the county or notified us that they were seeking a permit."

Franzen spoke about the year-end race to be permitted from his home Friday, when government offices, his own at the Mower County Extension Service, as well as all others were shut down for the New Year’s holiday.

"I’m still getting calls at home today," he said, "and there are 20 messages on my phone at work for me to take care of when I get back to work on Monday."

"No more permits can be issued under county rules, but those people who got in under the wire with their telephone requests will be safe," he said. "The idea was to either permit all the feedlot operators in Mower County by December 31 or to receive from them their intent to be permitted or not."

The feedlot officers received 80 applications in the last weeks of 1999 and the total number of feedlots is now in the 700s, according to Franzen.

"We have received a really good response. I don’t know if we have 100 percent of the feedlots in Mower County, but we must have 99 percent judging by the response we got," Franzen said.

Dave Quinlan, Mower County Extension Service educator, assisted Franzen and Vermilyea at the Dec. 29 "last-chance" feedlot permit meeting. Quinlan has also been an advisor to the Mower County Board of Commissioners and for the select group who wrote the county’s regulations that became law.

Quinlan noted the progress the county has made to regulate feedlots.

"If you stop and think that this entire process only began back in 1995 and now four years later, we have most of the feedlots in Mower County permitted, that’s quite an accomplishment," he said.