News last update:Feb 25, 2016

Bill allowing hog farmers to scale back gets legislature approval

A bill that will allow pig farmers in Iowa to temporarily scale back their operations has received approval in the Iowa Legislature – now it is up to the governor has to say yea or nay.

The state House gave final approval to a bill (512) allowing livestock producers to be reclassified as small operations by reducing their animal capacity and “mothballing” unused barns. The change would reduce state fees and reporting requirements for manure disposal.

Under the current law a farmer must file a manure management plan based on the animal capacity for all barns, whether occupied or not. And to be redefined as a small operation not subject to those filing requirements, a farmer must make a barn unusable.

With the new bill a hog farm could be classified as a small operation based on the number of animals actually housed on the farm, rather than its capacity. The Iowa Pork Producers Association says the change will help farmers who scale back their operations with the intention of expanding them again at a later date.

The bill now has to go to Gov. Terry Branstad who may sign it into law or veto it.

However, there has also been sharp criticism by environment advocacy groups to the bill. They argue that the less stringent regulations could allow farmers to store manure in those mothballed facilities, posing environmental hazards.

McKinley, the pork producers lobbyist, said an amendment added to the bill by the Senate addresses these concerns by allowing animal or manure storage in a mothballed facility only “on an emergency basis” and requiring farmers to inform the Department of Natural Resources of such circumstances. “At any time, the DNR still has jurisdiction over that facility to go in and inspect and make sure they’re fulfilling the full extent of the law,” McKinley said.

Those in opposition to the bill are Citizens for Community Improvement CCI, the Iowa Environmental Council, the Iowa Farmers Union, the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club, Des Moines Water Works and the national environmental group Food & Water Watch all registered in opposition to the bill.

Pig Progress

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