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Shelby County Stays Aggressive On Promoting Farm Fuel Storage Rules

Shelby County Stays Aggressive On Promoting Farm Fuel Storage Rules
Many farmers opt for double-walled tanks after hearing about need for stewardship.

If you buy fuel form the Shelby County Co-op and you've heard that after January 1, you can't get fuel delivered unless you have proper diking or double-walled tanks, you've heard a rumor. It's simply not true. That would open the door to competitors to steal customers.

However, the local co-op, one of the few single county co-ops still operating within the state, is aggressive about telling customers the need to upgrade fuel facilities and comply with federal laws. Most of the laws are based on the amount of fuel stored.

Earlier in the fall, Shelby County held an informational meeting for customers. It was well-attended. Fred Whitford, Purdue University Pesticide Programs Coordinator, and Scott Gabbard, Shelby County Extension ag educator, helped explain why it was in farmers best interests to take the next step in environmental stewardship.

"We want our customers to have the information they need to do what's right," says Denny Frey, general manager of the co-op. He says the co-op may hold a follow-up meeting in the future to address lingering questions, and for those who couldn't attend the first meeting.

Fuel storage on the farm is on the radar again since the Environmental Protection Agency has been talking about fuel storage plans. Actually, the date to have them was extended another 18 months. It's one of many extensions- so many that some believe the agency is crying wolf.

However, Barbara Carr, an administrator who deals with this program with EPA, says she doesn't expect any more extensions. The truth is that rules for fuel storage have been on the books for farms for decades. They have just been ignored in the past, she notes.

The newest regulation requires farmers with over a set amount of storage on the farm to have a written plan in place in case there would be a spill on their farm. The forms that are filled out to form the plan don't have to be sent anywhere for approval. They simply have to be completed and in the farmer's possession if an EPA inspector comes knocking.

The more likely scenario is for someone to ask for them if you have a spill, Whitford says. If you don't have the plans once they're required and there's an environmental spill of fuel on your farm, you may find yourself in more hot water than you care to imagine.
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