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How Much Do The Neighbors Need to Know?

Your management methods may soon be public record and open for comments by the community.

Your management methods may soon be public record and open for comments by the community. Sound scary? Hoosier Ag Today's Gary Truitt details the scenario.

This is National Agriculture Week, a time to make consumers more aware of how their food is produced. Yet, how much should the public know about the workings of a farm operation? Under new EPA rules, permitted livestock operations must not only have a nutrient management plan but now must make that plan part of the public record. Andy Tower, agricultural liason with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, this means your neighbors will have the right to inspect and comment on your nutrient management program, “There are definitely some concerns because I do not believe the pubic is going to understand these nutrient management plans.” He told HAT that it is going to take some education to teach the public that these plans actually are good for the environment not bad.

But what does “making public” mean? Will you have to print your plan in the local newspaper, mail a copy to your neighbors, have it on display at the courthouse or at your farm office? Tower told HAT nobody really knows, “We have not received a lot of guidance from the EPA on what this means.”

Tower said IDEM plans to help producers meet the new federal guidelines and prepare and make public a plan that fits the regulations. According to IDEM, there are approximately 625 CAFOs in the state. This represents 20 percent of the IDEM regulated farms. IDEM estimates 80 percent of the animals in Indiana are produced at regulated farms.

While neighbors need to be reassured about the environmental safety of a CAFO, producers need to have some protection and privacy of business operations. More work needs to be done by EPA to give both sides what they need.

To listen to the full interview, link to the article at HAT CHAT.