Stools of the Trade

PA farmers take a dump all over their neighbors.

By Daniel Denvir
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Nov. 10, 2009

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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.” ■

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1. Pat Buckwalter said... on Jul 19, 2013 at 09:35AM

“Went for my morning walk and discovered liquid manure covering large area of the hill I live on . The bottom of the hill is the boundary between Lancaster and Chester Co. The boundary line is the Octorara Creek. Heavy rains will send lots of liquid manure into the creek. The area looks like a hazmat zone. I don't understand how this can be permitted. The area is not part of a farm. This street is mostly residential and I have never seen this on the area in question before. So sad!”


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