PA farmers take a dump all over their neighbors.
Larger farms in Pennsylvania are required to have a Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) to ensure that manure is properly handled and disposed of. According to PennFuture, of the 54 livestock operations with an NMP in Chester and Lancaster Counties, only 57 percent are compliant with the standards. NMPs are administered by county Conservation Districts, which rarely refer farms to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for sanction. It usually takes something big like a major fish kill to force a regulator’s hand.
PennFuture’s biggest concern, however, is that the necessary inspections aren’t being done in the first place.
“What we fear is that the inspections aren’t even being done to uncover the problems, and that really serves as a deterrent to compliance,” says Jarrett.
Making matters worse, PennFuture claims to have encountered obstacles getting their hands on NMPs, which should be legally accessible as public documents. According to Jarrett, Conservation Districts are too cozy with farmers, seeing them, she says, more as clients.
“So their primary mission is to deliver services and information to those guys. Sometimes they feel their enforcement role conflicts with that outreach.”
While reducing water pollution is clearly in the public interest, increased regulations are always going to rankle businesses benefiting from the status quo. But as Jarrett sees it, the legislation is a fiscal opportunity for Pennsylvania to get its act together.
“The way to clean up the Chesapeake Bay is to clean our water up here first.” ■
Savage Love: Sondheim is solace