Farm Animal Urine-Manure
Water Pollution Targeted
By Curt Anderson
AP Farm Writer
WASHINGTON ( -- Concerned about drinking water and fish kills, state and local officials told Congress Thursday the federal government should impose national standards for disposal of farm-animal waste to protect waterways that frequently cross many political boundaries.
Such controls also would prevent companies from relocating where there is little regulation, they said.
Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening, a Democrat who is pushing increased regulation of farms following a toxic microbe outbreak last summer in Chesapeake Bay tributaries, pointed out that farm practices in six states affect the bay.
"As a single state, we can only have a limited impact on overall water quality," Glendening told the Senate Agriculture Committee. "We must address the issue of water quality on a broader scale."
Both Glendening and Susan Savage, the Democratic mayor of Tulsa, Okla., said states that are willing to impose their own tough regulations could wind up losing jobs if companies decide to move elsewhere.
"They will look for new markets and more relaxed regulatory climates," said Savage, whose state is also working on hog and poultry waste regulations. "States such as Oklahoma, who do the right thing, should not be penalized economically for protecting their drinking water supplies."
There are already several federal proposals to address manure runoff and pollution, which overloads waterways with nutrients that spur growth of algae and other organisms. The problem has worsened as animals are increasingly concentrated in larger and larger operations; some farmers also use manure as fertilizer.
The Environmental Protection Agency last month proposed rules, under the Clean Water Act, to set new pollution standards and waste management plans for the 6,600 largest cattle, hog and poultry operations.
Some in Congress want to go further. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has introduced legislation that would set even tougher minimum animal waste standards and require companies to submit detailed plans to the Agriculture Department, instead of to the EPA.
"This is a coast-to-coast problem," Harkin said.
The Clinton administration and many leading Republicans oppose the Harkin bill, saying it is unnecessary duplication and would put a strain on limited staffing resources. Poultry and livestock producers also prefer the EPA proposal, which they say will impose national standards for all states.
"State programs are in place to meet this standard. They just need to be implemented equitably," said Harry Knobee, a cattle feedlot operator from West Point, Neb., who testified on behalf of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
Tim Maupin, a nutrient management planner for the Rocco Inc. poultry company in Harrisonburg, Va., said his industry and the others are putting together their own voluntary waste proposals and don't want more costly bureaucracy.
"When you look at the Harkin bill's provisions, you have what appears to be a great recipe for running small- and medium-sized family farmers out of business."

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