Producers to decide between a new state general permit or a federal permit

Permitted animal feeding operations - also known as concentrated animal feeding operations - will soon face a choice as they look to renew their licensing this year. New rules will require producers to decide between a new state general permit and a more costly federal permit. "Farmers are just now registering that this is something they will face in the next year," said John Lory, University of Missouri Extension environmental nutrient management specialist. "We understand it's going to be confusing and farmers need help to be prepared for the deadlines later this year." More than 550 animal feeding operations in Missouri now hold permits. Most have held a federal general permit previously. Many of those permits will expire Feb. 23, 2011, so producers will have to choose between the new Missouri general permit and a federal permit in time for the application renewal deadline in late July. Specifics of the new state general permit are still under development, but two important differences from the previous permit are known. The new permit will differ from previous standards by prohibiting any type of discharge of manure for any reason. It also requires all producers to use the new Nutrient Management Technical Standard to develop a nutrient management plan that will determine manure application rates and define conditions where manure application is restricted. The second option is to get a federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, which also requires a nutrient management plan that follows NMTS. The biggest difference in the federal permit is a provision that allows certain exceptions to strict manure spill restrictions. Changes from the old federal general permit include additional public notice requirements for obtaining or amending a permit and higher fees compared with the state permit. Lory said producers with open liquid manure storage will need to choose carefully. "In simple terms, if an operation discharges waste there will be fewer ramifications and fines with the federal permit," he said. "In most instances that won’t matter, but in a time like last year where we saw excessive rain, even the best systems can overflow and that will not be allowed with the state permit." The MU Extension Commercial Agriculture Program will be holding a two-day course on how to interpret and use the Missouri NMTS, Feb. 2-3 at the MU Bradford Research and Extension Center near Columbia. Cost of the course is $185 and includes two lunches. Call Katrina Turner-Spencer at 573-882-0378 to register before Jan. 27. For more information, see MU Commercial Agriculture and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources will be holding free educational sessions throughout the state to explain CAFO permit requirements and answer questions: -Dexter: March 2, 1 p.m. Keller Public Library. -Eldon: March 8, 7 p.m. Eldon Community Center. -Macon: March 4, 1 p.m. Floral Hall, Macon County Park. -Mexico: March 4, 7 p.m. Audrain 4-H Center. -Mount Vernon: March 1, 1 p.m. MU Southwest Center. -Neosho: March 1, 7 p.m. Wright Conference Room, Arnold Farber Bldg., Crowder College. -Sedalia: March 8, 1 p.m. Farm Credit Services meeting room. -Trenton: March 5, 1 p.m. Alexander Student Center, North Central Missouri College.