Farm Progress

Visits are tied to areas that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management is supposed to enforce by law.

Tom J Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

July 25, 2017

3 Min Read
NEW LIAISON: Julia Wickard has a strong ag background and raises beef cattle. She says IDEM is focusing on hiring people with ag experience to work as inspectors in the field.

If you have a pesticide drift issue, you won’t see someone from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management show up at your farm. The Office of the Indiana State Chemist is charged with following up on those complaints. However, there are situations when an IDEM inspector might visit.

Julia Wickard, recently named as agricultural liaison for IDEM, believes it’s important for farmers to know when IDEM might interact with them. She explained her job responsibilities in earlier articles: Ag gains new link to IDEM and New liaison explains IDEM's role in Indiana.

Farm visit
Here is more of an exclusive interview between Wickard and Indiana Prairie Farmer. She begins by explaining circumstances that could result in a farm visit by IDEM.

What triggers an IDEM official to visit a farm? If someone from IDEM visits a farm, it is often one with a confined feeding operation. Here are the most common reasons IDEM visits or inspects a confined feeding operation:

• When a farm submits an application to IDEM for a CFO approval to construct a new building or manure storage structure, an IDEM permit manager will visit the farm to see the construction site, how it relates to existing structures on the farm, and to verify that appropriate setback distances are met.

• Once a CFO receives a CFO approval to construct a new building or manure storage structure, an IDEM construction inspector will visit to inspect the construction one or more times to verify compliance with the approved plans and specifications.

• During the first six months a new farm is operational, the IDEM inspector will schedule a compliance assistance visit to answer any questions the operator has about their CFO approval. Together they will walk through what the inspector will be checking in future inspections. The goal is to help the operator be on track for a good outcome during the first routine inspection.

• A CFO that is operating under a CFO approval can expect a routine inspection approximately once every five years.  

Are there other times when an IDEM inspector might visit? Yes. Here are situations that could trigger a visit:

• An IDEM inspector will visit a farm in response to a complaint.

• An IDEM emergency response on-scene coordinator may visit a farm to investigate a report of a spill. 

• An IDEM inspector will visit a farm when a farm is closing a building or manure structure, and when a farm is exiting the CFO/CAFO program when going out of business. The farm could also be just reducing the operation to animal counts below regulated numbers.

• Since the Fertilizer Rule came into effect in 2014, the Office of the Indiana State Chemist is another state agency that inspects farms. OISC generally follows up on manure staging and complaints related to land application on farms subject to the Fertilizer Rule.

Do IDEM inspectors need permission to enter your property? Indiana Statute IC 13-14-2-2 provides authority for the inspector, upon presentation of proper credentials, to enter upon private or public property to inspect for and investigate possible violations of any rule adopted by the board. In general, for routine inspections, the producer is contacted prior to a CFO/CAFO inspection. This allows the farm to have the necessary records available for review. 

All [routine] inspections are coordinated to ensure IDEM’s Biosecurity Policy is followed. Such arrangements are not made when investigating complaints or response to spills by IDEM’s emergency response staff.

About the Author(s)

Tom J Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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