The federal Environmental Protection Agency says four Iowa confined animal feedlot operations, or CAFOs, are out of compliance with the Clean Water Act.

The E-P-A’s Chris Whitley says the operators are all being notified and most of them are working with the agency to try and get back into compliance and follow the rules.

“The compliance orders are simply a first step of enforcement that EPA has at its disposal,” Whitley says. “They don’t involve fines. They are simply, as the name implies, it’s an order to put your operation into compliance with the laws and regulations.”

Whitley says there are several non-compliance issues at the four feedlots. “Everything from wastewater discharges by unpermitted CAFOs,” Whitley says. “We have one case that involves discharges by a large CAFO in violation of its approved permit, failure to maintain adequate storage capacity for waste. You’ve got a large CAFO that has not done a proper job of tracking its land applications.”

Whitley says, for the most part, feedlot operators are willing to do the right thing and follow the rules but sometimes there are misunderstandings on what the requirements demand. Farmers, he says, are among the best environmental stewards out there.

“We all understand the importance of protecting water resources,” Whitley says. “The confusion comes from time to time about what the regulations exactly require of a producer and how a producer has to go about meeting those requirements. That’s what we’re here for, as a resource.”

He says the EPA would much rather work proactively with producers to make sure they’re in compliance rather than to have to come in with an enforcement action.

The Iowa CAFOs being issued compliance orders are: Crossroads Cattle Company in Woodbine, Feedlot Services Company in Neola, Harlan Northrup Feedlot in Griswold, and Petersen-Bubke in Mapleton.

Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton