New federal rules require the nation’s 15-thousand largest livestock confinements to get permits and file manure management plans with state or federal officials, something already required by Iowa law. Environmental Protection Commission director Christie Whitman announced the new E-P-A rules yesterday afternoon. Whitman says it’s an important step to deal with a growing problem: the threat such large pools of manure pose to America’s waters. Whitman says there are 238,000 livestock operations in the U.S., generating 500 million tons of manure every day. The new rule will apply to 15,500 large-scale confinements. U.S. Ag Secretary Ann Veneman says the rule makes landmark changes in how large confinement operations are treated. Veneman says maintaining and improving water quality is one of our nation’s most important environmental issues. The news rules are know by the acronym “AFO/CAFO” (AY’-fo KAY’-fo), which translates to Animal Feeding Operations/Concentrated Feeding Operations. Robin Pruisner of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources tracks livestock confinement regulations and she says the biggest change in Iowa livestock regulations brought on by the federal rules involves identifying both nitrogen and phosphorus content in nutrient management plans. She says the state law is implementing that change over five years. She says it appears the federal rules will force the state to make that change within two years. Another change involves the permit process.She says Iowa only issues manure discharge permits to open feed lots, not confinement operations, and it looks like state law will have to be amended. Pruisner says that’s a change that can be made over time. She says they’ll have a couple of years to remodel the permit process. Pruisner says her first glance at the new federal rules doesn’t show anything the state would have a hard time meeting with a few changes.
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