Seven Michigan ag groups, 120 farmers appeal new CAFO permit guidelines
Seven agricultural groups and more than 120 large Michigan farms are challenging the state’s new CAFO permit guidelines.
The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy or EGLE changed the permit requirements April 1st. Michigan Farm Bureau’s Laura Campbell says the revised manure application requirements are not based on science. “There’s no science behind it and the department gets pressure from, you know, from activists or from other people who are concerned about water quality but they’ll just keep ratcheting that number down without having any research behind it.”
Campbell says the new permit guidelines also ignore the nutrient management successes of more than five thousand farms in the MAEAP program. “What this permit does is it says we don’t care if you’re MAEAP verified, we don’t care if you’re using good practices. If you’re in a watershed with a total maximum daily load, here’s a bunch of extra practices that you have to do regardless of what good things you’re already doing on your farm.”
Along with phosphorus, the contested new CAFO guidelines include permanent and mandatory 35-foot vegetative buffers around all surface water, tile intakes, and ditches. It also creates a virtual ban of wintertime manure application if the manure comes from a CAFO and new and unspecified restrictions for farms within a Total Maximum Daily Load watershed area.
Michigan Farm Bureau expects the appeal to take up to a year and a half to settle. They say the option of taking the case out of the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules and into the circuit court system is being discussed.
The rule challenge was filed by the Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Michigan Pork Producers Association, Michigan Allied Poultry Industries, Dairy Farmers of America, Select Milk Producers, Foremost Farms and more than 120 permit-carrying farms filed an appeal to the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules. They claim the new permit conditions exceed the department’s regulatory authority, unconstitutional and contradict state and federal law regulating large livestock farms.