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Serving: IN

Large Livestock Farms Prove Responsible

Recent incident shows how quickly one farm responded.

Just because a livestock operation is large doesn't mean that personnel can't respond quickly if something goes wrong that might affect the environment. In fact, one might argue that because the farm is large and has more resources available, including plenty of help and often large equipment, they can respond quicker than a smaller operation might.

According to Jan Ade Stevens, who edits Indiana Livestock News weekly, the Muncie Star Press reported in a story on their Website April 22 that a manure spill of 600 gallons occurred when a hose broke during a field application of manure. The operator applying the manure worked for Maxwell Farms, a large hog confinement company based in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

Out-of-state 'factory' farms that will pollute waters and act irresponsibly has been part of the message groups opposed to allowing more large hog and dairy operations to move into Indiana have used to try to round up opposition whenever such an operation attempts to receive state and/or local permits. Yet in this case, an official with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, according to the Muncie Star Press story, praised the farm for quick action. Apparently, workers constructed a dam to contain the manure spilled into Martindale Creek until it could be removed with a vacuum apparatus from the creek itself.

According to the story, impact was minimal to negligible since the farm personnel in charge reacted so quickly. Alerting IDEM is one of the steps that any farmer is supposed to take once a manure spill occurs. The time to make the call is when the event happens, not the next day or next week. Alerted quickly, IDEM officials indicate they make every effort to work with the individual or business to help control the situation.

The story notes that it was not yet known if the spill would lead to a fine for the farm, although it quoted the IDEM spokesperson as indicating a fine would be 'doubtful' since the farm staff reacted so quickly and were cooperative in fixing the problem. As the official notes in the story, 'accidents happen.'

Ade -Stevens is director of Gina, the code term for Growing Indiana Agriculture. Actually employed by the Indiana Soybean Alliance, GINA primarily promotes and covers livestock production issues in Indiana. The group was formed, Ade Stevens notes, since soybean farmers recognize that livestock farmers are one of their primary customers.

One of GINA's roles has been to scour the news for items related to problems or pluses associated with large livestock operations. Many involve opposition to proposed expansion or new operations. Although in one case in Madison County last summer, residents actually rallied to support expansion for a dairy farm because they felt the owner was a responsible citizen, doing a good job of trying to be a reasonable neighbor.

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