The Snyder County Conservation District wants to relay some pertinent information to farmers and agricultural, livestock and equine operations.
1.) Since 2016, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), with the urging of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has asked conservation districts to assist DEP to inspect farms in their respective counties within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Snyder County Conservation District Board of Directors voted that its staff conduct these inspections while still offering technical assistance.
During an inspection, Conservation District staff will determine whether farmers:
· Properly handle, store and land apply animal manure and agricultural process wastewater on the operation consistent with the nutrient needs of growing crops [i.e., a manure management plan (MMP) or a nutrient management plan (NMP)]; and
· Properly manage risks of erosion and runoff from agricultural plowing or tilling operations and animal heavy use areas [i.e., an “agricultural erosion and sediment control plan” (Ag E&S Plan) or a conservation plan].
In the meantime, Conservation District staff asks that operators seek our help in getting their plans and operations in compliance. We may be able to assist in developing MMPs and Ag. E&S Plans. However, there may be a future time when a Conservation District staff member visits an operation, the plans are not in compliance, and we are not allowed to help and are forced to report the problem immediately to DEP and/or the State Conservation Commission (SCC).
2.) In 2017, the SCC increased its average weights for many agricultural animal species. This may redefine some operations from non-CAOs to CAOs (concentrated animal operations) or from non-CAFOs to CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations).
New CAOs are required to have an approved detailed NMP instead of a simpler regular MMP. New CAFOs are required to have an approved NMP and an approved permit from DEP.
The Conservation District staff asks animal operations to meet with us to determine whether they will be a CAO and/or CAFO. If so, we will point the operator in the right direction towards compliance.
3.) Also, if a farmer or agricultural/equine operation is thinking of building a new facility, manure storage or stacking structure, or other work that involves earth disturbance, please make an appointment with the Conservation District staff early during the planning stages.
Depending on the situation, you may require an excavation erosion & sedimentation control plan (E&S Plan), a federal excavation permit, an odor management plan (OMP), a P.E. (Professional Engineer) developed design and drawings for liquid manure storages, and proof of agricultural compliance plans (i.e., MMPs, NMPs, Ag. E&S Plans, conservation plans).
4.) Finally, the Conservation District and Snyder County Commissioners are seeking landowners interested in planting forested or multifunctional riparian buffers funded through a DCNR (PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources) Riparian Buffer Grant Program. The Conservation District is also seeking agricultural operators interested in installing manure handling and soil erosion prevention practices called best management practices (BMPs). These BMPs include streambank fencing, improved barnyards, manure storages and pasture watering systems.
The take home message to farmers and agricultural, livestock and equine operations regarding compliance: Meet with the Snyder County Conservation District now before someone knocks on you door unprepared and conducts an inspection without the proper plans and manure handling and soil erosion prevention practices.
If you have any questions or want to meet with us, please feel free to contact anyone at the Snyder County Conservation District at 570-837-3000. We are located at 10541 Route 522, Middleburg. You can also visit our website at www.snyderconservaiton.org. Our general email is email@example.com.