In this file:
· Ohio livestock groups respond to EWG’s Lake Erie report
· Report: Growth in unregulated farms in Maumee Watershed fuels Lake Erie’s toxic algae blooms
Ohio livestock groups respond to EWG’s Lake Erie report
Focus on how to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff in Lake Erie differs for voluntary or regulatory approach.
Jacqui Fatka, Feedstuffs
Apr 09, 2019
Lake Erie continues to have a bull’s-eye on it regarding the interaction of runoff sources into the basin. The latest hit comes from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Environmental Law & Policy Center, which blamed animal farms’ manure flow into the region.
However, Ohio livestock groups voiced their commitment to water quality and questioned the credible science behind the latest report.
By analyzing aerial photos, satellite imagery and state permit data, the environmental groups identified 775 hog, cattle, dairy and poultry operations in the Maumee River watershed in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan in 2018 – a 40% increase since 2005. “The investigation found that more than a fourth of factory farms in the watershed had expanded since they were built, and at least half the manure generated along the Ohio portion of the river comes from operations that lack state permits.”
A statement from the Ohio Livestock Coalition, which represents Ohio farmers in the livestock and poultry community, noted, “Preserving Ohio’s waterways is a daily job for farmers; it’s our responsibility and our obligation. While we take very seriously credible scientific studies of nutrient runoff, the report from EWG fails to meet that test. Understanding nutrient management and water quality requires credible, on-the-ground, actionable research – not a collection of aerial photos.”
EWG noted that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency reported that the amount of phosphorus in Lake Erie has remained fairly steady over the past few years, even though the state has been working with soy and corn farmers to implement voluntary best practices for handling agricultural runoff. EWG claims that although farmers have made strides in reducing the amount of commercial fertilizer running into Lake Erie, animal farms and the manure they generate have been “flying under the radar.”
The Ohio Livestock Coalition countered that...
Report: Growth in unregulated farms in Maumee Watershed fuels Lake Erie’s toxic algae blooms
By Beth Burger, The Columbus Dispatch
via Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com - Apr 9, 2019
Using aerial photos, satellite images and state permit figures, two environmental groups say more than half of the manure in the Maumee River watershed comes from unpermitted farms with livestock.
The Environmental Working Group and Environmental Law & Policy Center took about a year to collect and analyze the data, which showed a 40 percent increase in hog, cattle, dairy and poultry operations in the Maumee River watershed in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan from 2005 to 2018, for a total of 775 livestock farms.
The Maumee River watershed is about 6,500 square miles — the vast majority in Ohio — and has been identified by university researchers as the main source of phosphorus entering Lake Erie from farm runoff. The phosphorus leads to algae blooms that can turn the water a murky green color, contaminating the drinking water supply and harming aquatic life in what is a prime area for walleye and other fishing. Since the 1990s, the algae blooms have appeared each year beginning in May and can last through October.
If a farm is not considered large enough to have a permit through the Ohio Department of Agriculture, then the state agency does not track its activities. For example, the state requires a farm with at least 700 mature dairy cows to get a permit. However, the department won’t track a farm with 699 cows. Only 14 percent of the farms in Ohio have permits.
“Farms below the permit threshold do not have records with the department unless they’ve had an enforcement action,” said Brett Gates, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Enforcement action would take place only if there’s a complaint because, without a permit, there are no routine inspections, he confirmed.
“To me, this really spotlights how much more Ohio should be doing to track and oversee these big sources that are effectively industrial agriculture operations when you get to this scale,” said Madeline Fleisher, a senior attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center, a Midwestern environmental legal advocacy organization.
The groups’ analysis found that at least half the manure generated along the Ohio portion of the Maumee River comes from operations that lack state permits.
“You can’t fix what you’re not paying attention to,” Fleisher said. “There just needs to be a lot more oversight.”
Joe Cornely, a spokesman for the Ohio Farm Bureau, questioned the method of the analysis and its accuracy...