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PNS Daily Newscast - October 20, 2020 


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VA's Family Farms Left Holding the...Manure?

March 9, 2011

RICHMOND, Va. - Many of the small family farms in Virginia have been replaced by fewer, larger industrialized animal operations - and yet, the rules for dealing with the manure from farms have remained the same.

As the U.S. Senate considers an amendment by Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Dist. 6, Roanoke) to reduce funding to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Chesapeake Bay cleanup projects, the Pew Environment Group has been examining the link between big agriculture and water pollution, a major problem in the Bay.

The biggest pollutant that comes from animal farming is manure, and the old notion that it is all used as fertilizer is just that - an old notion - according to Karen Steuer, Pew's director of government relations.

"Since we've gone to a more industrialized production system, we've got up to a billion tons of manure produced annually - and nowhere to go with it."

When it is not stored properly, explains Steuer, manure can seep into the water supply, posing serious threats to human health - and the Chesapeake Bay.

"Cleaning up those operations and finding a way to address the manure problem is a critical piece of the overall cleanup. If we don't do something about it, we won't be growing anymore crabs in the Chesapeake Bay and we won't be swimming in our rivers, and our fisheries are going to go away."

According to Steuer, major corporations often contract with the small farmer, and the corporation provides the livestock. However, under current EPA rules, it is the small farmer and not the corporation that is responsible for getting the appropriate pollution permits.

The information, "Reforming Industrial Agriculture," is online at www.pewenvironment.org.

Steuer says some states have pilot projects in the works to address excess manure. Ultimately, however, she expects the EPA and individual states will need to update their regulations, to hold industrial farms responsible for the pollution they generate.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA