October 24, 2014

DNR director wants money to hire more livestock facility inspectors

The director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is requesting over a million dollars to hire 11 new inspectors for the state’s livestock facilities. At a budget hearing Wednesday, Chuck Gipp explained a per head fee pays for some inspections.

“That money is still available to do that, but the money to fund additional positions has been diminished because of the budget constraints we have,” Gipp said. The Iowa DNR is facing a federal deadline for improving enforcement of clean water standards.

The Environmental Protection Agency has given the state 60 days to respond. EPA officials claim the DNR doesn’t act fast enough when there’s pollution from livestock operations and they allow manure applications too close to waterways. The EPA is threatening to take over enforcement.

“EPA has said if we don’t have the staff, they could develop SWAT-like teams to do (inspections) for us,” Gipp said. “We’d prefer, and our people we regulate prefer, to have DNR staff there to get people into attainment.” Gipp submitted a status quo budget, but is asking the governor to find $1.3 million in discretionary funds to hire 11 new inspectors.

The EPA demands an inspection once every five years for larger livestock farms.