Feedlot permit changes would benefit water quality

Published 6:02 pm Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Under proposed changes to operating permits for large livestock farms in Minnesota, waters will be more protected from nitrogen leaching and runoff from land application of manure, while feedlot owners will benefit from improved forms and online services, according to a press release.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is revising the general operating permit for about 1,200 large feedlots covering Feb. 1, 2021, through Jan. 31, 2026. A general permit covers facilities whose operations are similar.

The agency is holding public information meetings so interested individuals can learn about the proposed permit and ask questions:

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• 10 a.m.-noon Tuesday at the MPCA offices, 18 Wood Lake Drive SE in Rochester

• 10:30 a.m.-noon March 19 atBlue Earth County Public Library, 100 E Main St. in Mankato

• 10 a.m.-noon March 31 at Marshall-Lyon County Library, 201 C St. in Marshall

• 10 a.m.-noon April 2 at the MPCA offices, 7678 College Road, Suite 105 in Baxter (Also available by webcast from all MPCA regional offices.)

The feedlot general permit combines Minnesota rules and statutes with federal regulations of the national pollutant discharge elimination system. It’s designed to protect water quality, primarily from the storage and land application of manure, the release stated.

Though substantially similar to the current general permit, the proposed permit includes some new or modified requirements, including:

• To limit the potential for nitrate leaching and runoff

• A cover crop for any manure application during the months of June, July, August and September (previously only June, July and August).

• Best management practices for any manure application during the month of October, such as cover crops, split applications of nitrogen, nitrification inhibitors or applying manure when soil temperatures are 50 degrees or less.

• No land application of solid manure during February and March (in addition to the current prohibition on applying liquid manure during the winter)

• Record-keeping and annual reporting

The proposed permit would require permittees to use MPCA-approved forms for annual reporting and record-keeping. The MPCA will make the forms available when the proposed permit goes on public notice.

Permit format, coverage, and application process

The MPCA is developing an online permit application that should be available in fall 2020. The agency has also removed redundant and unnecessary text from the proposed permit. Each facility will receive a customized notice of coverage containing only the permit sections that apply to the feedlot.

As the permit-development process continues, learn more and find out about public-participation opportunities on the MPCA web site. The formal 30-day public comment period will be announced in late spring or early summer.