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Articles from 2003 In March

NPPC Elects New Officers

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) elected new officers and board members at National Pork Industry Forum, Dallas, TX.

Swaledale, IA, pork producer Job Caspers is the new NPPC president. He is co-owner of Pleasant Valley Pork Corp., a farrow-to-finish operation that markets 20,000 hogs annually.

Keith Berry, Greencastle, IN, pork producer, is the new NPPC president-elect. He owns a 125-sow, farrow-to-finish operation with his son. He also farms 1,500 acres of corn and soybeans.

Tyler, MN, pork producer Don Buhl is the new NPPC vice president. He owns Buhl’s Ridge View Farms, Inc.

New members of the NPPC board of directors are: Charlie Arnot, pork producer member of the board from Kansas City, MO; Bryan Black, Canal Winchester, OH, pork producer, and Terry Holton, Shawnee Mission, KS, Seaboard Farms.

Pork Checkoff Survey Proposed

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has published a rule to determine participation in a survey later this year on gauging support to continue the mandatory pork checkoff.

"With concerns over irregularities in the voting process on the previous petition and referendum on the pork checkoff, we urge USDA to conduct this survey in 2003 on behalf of all pork producers so that they can decide," says NPPC President Jon Caspers, Swaledale, IA, pork producer.

The rule will identify a portion of pork producers who would be invited to sign a petition providing for a continuation referendum if 15% of the eligible producers support the referendum.

The rule would include a 60-day comment period after which a final rule would be published before the survey is conducted.

COOL Opposed

NPPC delegates overwhelmingly supported a resolution to pursue a repeal of the mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) program for meat products before it goes into effect.

"Research suggests that COOL will result in negative impacts for the U.S. pork industry with no real benefits," says Caspers. Mandatory COOL could potentially cost pork producers up to $10/head, adds Beth Anne Mumford, spokeswoman for the North Carolina Pork Council, which sponsored the measure.

"With the announcement recently that USDA will be putting together a series of listening and education sessions to gain more public input from around the country, we are encouraged that NPPC can now move forward in working with the administration to voice the concerns of pork producers about reevaluating the negative impacts and moving to a voluntary system," says Caspers. Hearings will be held in 12 states.

Delegates also passed a resolution asking USDA to expand quarterly hog inventory reports to include all hogs and pigs on the North American continent. It would more accurately reflect the number of hogs sent to North American meatpacking plants.

All 44 state producer delegates supported a resolution for congressional study of the issues of market access, packer ownership and the concentration of pork packing and swine production, says Caspers.

Support was also given to a plan to double state contributions to NPPC to aid the organization’s voluntary producer investment program.


The 2003 Distinguished Service Award given annually at Pork Forum was presented to Al Christian. Several past and present pork industry leaders have been students of Christian’s at Iowa State University while he managed the swine teaching farm.

"He taught his students how to raise hogs, but perhaps even more important, he taught them about life, always emphasizing the vital role hog farming and agriculture play in the social fabric of America," says Tom Floy, Pork Board member and a pork producer from Thornton, IA.

Checkoff Rate Stays Unchanged

Pork Act delegates voted to keep the pork checkoff rate at the current level of 40 cents/$100 of value at the delegate session at National Pork Industry Forum in Dallas, TX.

The resolution included an amendment to form a task force to study the creation of a single industry organization.

That task force will be a joint project of the National Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board. The task force will offer its final recommendations to the 2004 Pork Forum for consideration.

Based on $11 billion in farm sales projected for 2003, pork checkoff collections are estimated at $44 million. Of that, about $35 million is targeted for national programs and $9 million for state programs.

The 2003 budget, with some funds held in reserve, calls for projected spending of $42.7 million, 11% lower than in 2002.

Through a legislative national checkoff, the National Pork Board has responsibility for checkoff-funded advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, technology, swine health and pork safety programs.

Other Actions

Resolutions were passed at Pork Forum regarding communications and science programs. The first calls for alliances with other groups to enhance consumer awareness about modern agricultural practices and to promote a positive image of agriculture.

Animal well-being was made a research priority for 2003-2004 in a second resolution.

In a third, the National Pork Board supported sound science as a basis for decisions on antibiotic use in food animal production.

Delegates also nominated nine pork producers to fill six positions on the 15-member Pork Board. Five positions are for three-year terms and the sixth is to fill the remaining two years of a three-year term. Candidates are: Craig Christensen, Iowa; Mark Reding, Kentucky; David Culbertson, Illinois; Dianne Bettin, Minnesota; Dennis Michael, South Dakota; Wayne Peugh, Illinois; Alden Zuhlke, Nebraska; John Foushee, North Carolina and Brent Sandidge, Missouri. Members will be appointed by the secretary of agriculture.

For more information on the checkoff, call the Producer Service Center at 800-456-7675 or check the Internet at

Health Ordinance Overturned

An Iowa county's health ordinance has been ruled “void and unenforceable,” says Eldon McAfee, an attorney for a group of livestock producers contesting the law.

On July 9, 2001, the Worth County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance regulating confinement livestock operations for air emission standards, indoor air quality standards and water quality. The board argued it was a health ordinance, not a livestock regulation.

But on Feb. 24, 2003, the Worth County District Court agreed with the livestock producers that the county ordinance in fact regulates livestock production that is under state jurisdiction.

McAfee points out that the district court ruling has no legal precedent outside of Worth County. There are several other county laws restricting livestock production in Iowa.

“However, as a practical matter, this court's legal analysis and rationale are broad enough to apply to other Iowa county ordinances attempting to regulate livestock production or prohibit new construction (moratoriums),” he explains.

Smithfield's ROI

Smithfield Foods Chairman and CEO Joe Luter III likes to point out that his company offers a better return on investment than the S&P 500.

A $100 bill invested in Smithfield stock 15 years ago earned an 18% return ($1,194), while the S&P 500 provided an 8.4% return ($336). A $100 investment in the stock 28 years ago realized a 25.6% ($57,600) rate of return.

The lower performance in recent years is due to Smithfield's extraordinary growth in the past decade, Luter told a Consumer Analysts of New York group last month. The Virginia-based pork producer/processor has roughly doubled in size in just the last four years.

Smithfield ranks as the No. 1 pork packer in the United States, processing 20% of the U.S. market (19.3 million hogs). They are No. 1 worldwide in pork production with 14.7 million hogs — 13% of the U.S. market share. Smithfield ranks fifth in beef processing with 7% of U.S. slaughter.

Domestic sales totaled $8 billion, international sales $1.3 billion in 2002. Processed meats make up 32% of the sales' dollar, 26% beef and 25% fresh pork. Processed meats, like bacon, sausage, and ham, have grown 400% in the last decade and currently account for 53% of sales revenue. Hogs sold to other processors make up 15% of total sales.

Smithfield's hog production group lost $19.3 million in the first six months of their current fiscal year, and the trend is continuing through the third quarter. Last year, the group made $223 million.

The difference is simple — low hog prices. “People think I'm crazy, but I like low hog prices,” says Luter. “There is pain for a short time, but each time we go through one of these cycles, we emerge stronger than we were before the downturn.

“The industry is not well capitalized, so high-cost, inefficient producers cut back or go out of business in a loss situation. Just a 5% reduction in hog numbers sometimes means a doubling of hog prices,” he adds.

Luter estimates pork production will be down 3% this year, with beef production down 4-5% and poultry down 2-3%. He expects prices, on the other hand, to increase 15-20%.

Luter on Industry Issues

  • Smithfield's case-ready products: “Case-ready hasn't grown as fast as we expected, and there is overcapacity in this segment. Frankly, I don't think anyone is profitable yet in case-ready meats. But the trend is coming and it will drive costs out of the system.”

  • The impact the country of origin labeling (COOL) law on Smithfield: Luter says COOL is “bad public policy,” but expects it will help his company, rather than hurt it. Why? “Because it will keep Canadian pigs out of the U.S.,” he says. “When the law goes into effect, farmers will have to trace and certify origin of their pigs.” Canadian pigs will have to be kept separate on the farm, at the packing plant and on the cutting floor, dramatically increasing costs. He says Smithfield will probably refuse to buy pigs of Canadian origin. “The law is ill-conceived, it's all politics, and it's going to hurt the very people it was designed to help,” he adds.

The Hog Side: Five-Year Goals

The hog production side of the growing Smithfield Foods empire consists of Murphy-Brown East and Murphy-Brown West. U.S. sows total 753,223, with production units in 12 states turning out 13.6 million market hogs. Another 80,577 sows are managed in Mexico, Brazil and Poland.

Hog Production Group President Jerry Godwin provided some company production figures and compared them to an industry average (source unknown) and their five-year goals (Table 1).

Godwin believes the trend in pigs weaned/litter is a key component of improved performance — “driving progress towards enhanced efficiency of the industry.”

Two major inputs into their production system are feed and superior genetics. Every dose of semen collected at their boar studs is identified by bar code to monitor productivity. Every animal is identified in a database that tracks lifetime productivity. Genetic lines are tracked to produce pigs for designated product streams. Different gene combinations target international markets, primarily Japan.

“Being a leader in genetics is essential for being a leader in this business. We are the only company integrated through genetic supply, which gives us an undisputed advantage,” he says.

Table 1. Murphy-Brown Production

Industry Current M-B 5-yr. Goal
Pigs weaned/litter 8.82 9.32
Live wt./sow/year, lb. 4,398 4,731 5,173
Carcass wt/sow/year, lb. 3,290 3,567 3,925
Carcass yield, % 74.4 75.4
Lean % 50.5 52.0
Whole herd feed conversion 3.20 2.95 2.79
Finishing Avg. Daily Gain, lb. 1.60 1.70

Funding Limits Raised

Increases in program funding, flexibility and streamlining are helping build interest in the revised Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Despite a trade show and other attractions nearby, a standing-room-only crowd of pork producers packed a large room to hear more about EQIP funds during the Iowa Pork Congress.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has loosened the reins on the voluntary conservation program, to encourage broader participation and to provide producers with incentives to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) new Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) rules.

From initial reactions, it appears the overhaul of EQIP has worked to create a buzz amongst producers.

“There is a huge interest in EQIP. It is very competitive,” says speaker Larry Beeler, resource conservationist with USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office in Des Moines, IA. Interest has been mounting with producer concerns to upgrade management and protect the environment, he says.

In 2002, for example, Iowa received just $7 million in program funding; Beeler says there were requests for $40 million. The accompanying EQIP map (Figure 1) provides a breakdown of program payments for 1997-2002. EQIP began in 1996.

EQIP fits well with environmental requirements for soil, water, air and wildlife. And it addresses some of the issues facing the livestock industry.

Relaxed Requirements

EQIP also fits more producers. Gone is the $50,000 payment limitation. An individual can receive up to $450,000 for all EQIP contracts during the life of the 2002 farm bill.

President Bush's proposed fiscal year 2004 budget includes $850 million for EQIP funds, an increase of $255 million. Over 10 years, $9 billion in additional funds have been allocated to EQIP, says Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman. EQIP was funded at $200 million last year.

Previously, 60% of the funds were designated for priority areas. Now that limitation has been dropped, says Beeler. Plus, 50% of the funds were allocated for livestock use; that's been ramped up to 60% of funds.

“Another huge change with the new farm bill and EQIP is the elimination of the 1,000 animal units limitation,” he notes. “Previously, if you were that size producer or larger, you weren't eligible for funding for any type of waste storage facility.”

Producers receiving funds for a livestock treatment or storage facility will be required to develop and implement a nutrient management plan. There are four components: storage, land treatment, nutrient management plan and recordkeeping.

Beeler observes, “That's another change. Before the plan would just cover the storage aspects. Now we are taking a look at not only storage but also proper handling and disposal of the waste nutrients.”

For certain conservation practices, EQIP funding may provide cost-share assistance up to 75% of the total costs and up to 90% of the costs for limited resource and beginning farmers.

Projects may be approved any time during the current farm bill, which expires in 2007. Contracts can run from one year after the implementation of all practices to 10 years.

For the first time, producers can receive EQIP payments in the same year the contract is approved. And, requirements for submitting an application have been streamlined to expedite the process.

Environmental Goals

NRCS is addressing four national priorities that fulfill EQIP's environmental goals. Those include reduction of nonpoint source pollution, reduction of emissions that contribute to air quality problems, reduction in soil erosion and promotion of at-risk species habitat recovery.

Beeler encourages producers to seek out innovative ideas and technologies that might meet the environmental standards outlined in EQIP.

Funding Process, Application

The degree to which an application fits the overall needs of national and state conservation policies and environmental needs of an area will determine which contracts are earmarked for funding and the amount of funds allocated by state conservation officers. Producers should visit with county officials to find out what least-cost technology practices are deemed most eligible for funding.

For details, producers should contact their local USDA Service Center, listed in their local telephone book under U.S. Department of Agriculture, or their local conservation district office. NRCS says state and local lists of all details involving the EQIP implementation process and ranking of applications will be posted on the NRCS Web site located at:

Funding Challenge

The heightened interest in EQIP means despite increased availability, funds will still be tight, notes Beeler.

David Roper, outgoing president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), says his group will encourage each state conservationist to hold to 60% of funds for livestock conservation efforts. And NPPC plans to determine if other economic incentives may be available to meet the demands of CAFO rules. Stresses Roper: “We are encouraging producers to aggressively seek to understand EQIP and to position themselves so they can take advantage of it.”

Beware the Taxman

The growing size of Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) grants during 2002 may create a tax burden for some operations if not handled properly, explains Joe Horner, Commercial Agriculture Program economist, University of Missouri.

“If you received an EQIP grant, be careful to watch the way your tax preparer handles the grant on your tax return,” he says. “Proper tax reporting of the EQIP grant by your preparer might save you thousands of dollars in income tax that you might not owe.”

Many tax preparers are not familiar with the larger EQIP grants, even though they may have dealt with Soil and Water Conservation District and Farm Service Agency (FSA) cost-share programs, says Horner.

“When they receive a 1099 form from the FSA office, many tax preparers automatically include the income on Schedule F,” he explains. “And, they either list the expenses incurred as soil and water conservation expenses on Schedule F, or on your depreciation schedule just as they have always done with cost-share grants.”

For producers with EQIP grants, the problem is that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) only allows a maximum of 25% of gross income to be counted as soil and water expense in one year. Any additional expenses are carried forward to future years.

That hasn't been a problem for most livestock producers in the past because the grants were small compared to their gross incomes, notes Horner.

However, some EQIP allocations are now equal to or greater than gross incomes. That creates large tax liabilities when using standard tax treatment policies for cost-share grants.

In these cases, a special section of the IRS code, I.R.C. 126, excludes large capital project cost-share payments from both taxable income and expenses.

“If you had a large EQIP grant in 2002, you may want to take the appropriate reference material on I.R.C. 126 to your tax preparer, along with your tax records,” states Horner. “This will ensure that your preparer is familiar with section 126 and does the proper research on treatment of your EQIP grant.”

product news

Utility Work Machine

The 5600 Toolcat Utility Work Machine is new from Bobcat Company. All-wheel steer and four-wheel drive are combined in one machine equipped with a 44-hp Kubota diesel engine to navigate tough ground conditions. The suspension system is able to adjust its responsiveness according to the type of load being carried and allows flex and axle oscillation to help keep all tires on the ground for increased pushing force. A tight, 17-ft. outside turn diameter helps maneuver in confined areas. A two-speed, hydrostatic drive system can be shifted on-the-fly. The 5600 can achieve an 18-mph drive speed. An engine throttle lever operates independent of the drive pedal to allow the operator to utilize maximum attachment hydraulic flow, even at low travel speeds. A digital speedometer and cruise control make it easy to repeat and maintain a specific speed. The cab design incorporates operator ergonomics, safety and simple-to-use controls. The Toolcat features a box capacity of 2,000 lb. A variety of attachments are available.
(Circle Reply Card No. 101)

Swine Influenza Vaccines

Schering-Plough Animal Health Corporation is launching two new-generation monovalent swine influenza vaccines. MaxiVac H1N1 and MaxiVac H3N2 are part of the MaxiVac family. This swine influenza virus vaccine line has a USDA-approved label for reduced shedding of H1N1 and H3N2 flu viruses. Both new vaccines contain the Schering-Plough Animal Health oil-in-water adjuvant, Emunade. Both vaccines have been shown to reduce the clinical signs of swine influenza as well as viral shedding, which should reduce swine influenza exposure among animals and shorten the duration of disease in a herd. The monovalent vaccines are available in 250-dose (500 ml.), 125-dose (250 ml.), or 50-dose (100 ml.) vials. Each vaccine is indicated for use in healthy pigs 4 weeks of age or older.
(Circle Reply Card No. 102)

All-Wheel Steer Loaders

Mustang Manufacturing Company, Inc. introduces the new Mustang All-Wheel Steer (AWS) Loader line. High steering angles and a small track circle help navigate tight corners. A high-speed option gives the AWS Loader a 25-mph travel speed. Three of the models in the line, the ML43, ML53 and ML73, are telescopic loaders.
(Circle Reply Card No. 103)

Genetic Alliance

Waldo Farms, Inc. and Whiteshire Hamrock, LLC have formed an alliance to produce and market Duroc and Duroc component terminal boars and semen. Pigs will be produced and marketed under the Waldo Whiteshire United name. Waldo Farms has provided Duroc genetics for a jointly operated Duroc and White Duroc nucleus unit in Indiana. The expanded, multi-site system will serve production systems of all sizes in the U.S. and abroad with healthy, productive breeding stock. Complete genetic consultation and services will continue to be provided to producers and breeding stock companies. Both genetic companies have high-performing maternal and terminal pure lines. Additional lines include GGP, GP, hybrid and composites. Waldo Farms, Inc., DeWitt, NE, and Whiteshire Hamrock LLC, Albion, IN, will maintain their independent production sites and genetic improvement programs, while utilizing their combined genetic assets to more effectively serve customers.
(Circle Reply Card No. 104)

PC Bar Code System

The PC-based Bar Code System from Wisconsin Electrical Manufacturing Company, Inc. helps increase the safety of the feedmilling process. The system works in conjunction with the batching system and uses a bar code reader to identify all added ingredients. Actual weights are recorded and shown on the batching documentation. Automatic safety checks prevent adding incorrect amounts or the wrong ingredients. Materials may be pre-weighed to all maximum production rates while insuring production of high-quality feed. The PC-based Bar Code System helps to assure and document the exact hand-adds and the individual amounts added to every batch of feed. The system provides automatic inventory and history for all ingredients.
(Circle Reply Card No. 105)

New Power Option

Reinke Manufacturing Inc. offers a 230-volt, single-phase power option on its center pivot irrigation systems to allow farmers with a standard household power supply to use pivot systems. In the past, pivot systems required a 480-volt, three-phase power supply. The 230-volt, single-phase power option works well for smaller acreage farms and is suitable for use on the same terrain grades as any Reinke pivot system, regardless of the power. The lower voltage option allows all the same control panel options as the 480-volt, three-phase power option.
(Circle Reply Card No. 106)

Environmentally Friendly Phosphorus Feeding

New technologies on the horizon can cut the phosphorus (P) a pig leaves behind. That's good news for the environment.

University of Kentucky swine nutritionist Gary Cromwell lists some of the tactics to trim phosphorus excretion from pigs.

As a quick review, the reason swine manure is so high in phosphorus is because most of it is bound in an organic complex commonly called phytic acid or phytate.

  1. Phytase

    First on his phosphorus-reduction list, this enzyme is widely distributed in yeasts, fungi and bacteria. From 55 to 80% of the P in cereal grains and oilseed meals is in the phytate form. To utilize P from phytate, the enzyme phytase is required. Pigs do not have sufficient amounts of phytase in their digestive tract to hydrolyze all the P from phytate, so most of the P from the diet is excreted.

    Adding phytase increases the bioavailability of P in a corn-soybean meal (SBM) diet three-fold — from about 15% to over 45%, explains Cromwell. As a result, the amount of supplemental inorganic P can be reduced such that total dietary P is lowered by 0.1%.

    Lowering calcium slightly also improves the response from phytase. Tests in the last five years indicate that less phytase may be required to release P from phytate if the dietary calcium level is also reduced by 0.05 to 0.1%. Studies at the University of Kentucky show that lowering dietary P and supplementing with phytase will lower P excretion by 30 to 40%.

  2. Low-Phytate Corn

    A low-phytate gene reduces the phytate P in corn by half and triples the amount of inorganic P. As a result, bioavailability of P increases from about 20% in normal corn to over 75%.

    Experiments with both growing and finishing pigs indicated that feeding pigs low-phytate corn-SBM diets containing 0.10 to 0.12% less total P than normal showed performance and bone mineralization similar to pigs fed normal diets. This reduction in total dietary P, along with the greater bioavailability of P in low-phytate corn, is associated with a 43% reduction in excreted P.

  3. Low-Phytate Soybean Meal

    Soybeans that are low in both phytic acid and oligosaccharides have recently been produced. Both compounds are reduced because oligosaccharides and phytic acid synthesis use similar metabolic pathways. Soybean meal produced from low-phytate soybeans has about half as much phytate P and more than twice as much inorganic P as soybean meal from conventional soybeans.

    University of Kentucky studies have shown that the P in low-phytate soybean meal is about 50% bioavailable, compared with 20% in normal soybean meal. Pigs fed both low-phytate corn and low-phytate soybean meal with no supplemental inorganic P grew as fast and efficiently, had similar bone traits and excreted 53% less P than pigs fed diets containing conventional corn and soybean meal supplemented with enough inorganic P to meet their requirement (Table 1).

    The composition of low-phytate corn and low-phytate soybean meal are essentially the same as their conventional counterparts. In fact, the total amount of P is also about the same. The only difference is in the type of P — less phytate P and more inorganic P in the low-phytate types.

    Low-phytate corn is on the horizon and low-phytate soybean meal is 4-5 years away, says Cromwell. Neither eliminates the need for phytase because the enzyme is effective when included in diets with either type of corn or soybean meal.

  4. Phytase in other plants

    Back in the 1940s, researchers found that some crops naturally carry high levels of phytase in their seeds. Wheat, wheat byproducts, rye and to a lesser extent, barley, contain significant amounts of phytase. Cromwell has found a much higher bioavailability of P in wheat (50%), wheat middlings (41%), wheat bran (29%) and barley (30%) than in corn (14%).

    Biotechnology has been used to insert a phytase gene into alfalfa and canola, which increases their phytase content. Commercializing these crops, says Cromwell, could provide alternative ways of supplying phytase as a means to reduce P excretion.

  5. The Enviropig

    Scientists at Canada's University of Guelph have produced several lines of transgenic pigs with high levels of phytase in their saliva. The P in soybean meal is highly digestible by the transgenic pig and excretion of P was reduced by as much as 75% in weanling pigs. It is estimated that these pigs can deliver as much as 200,000 units of phytase to the digestive tract during consumption of 1 kg. (2.2 lb.) of feed. This is much more than the normal 300 to 1,000 units of phytase supplemented per kg of feed.

    “Whether these pigs become practical to produce remains to be seen, but it opens a new biological approach to reducing phosphorus pollution,” explains Cromwell.

  6. Diet Formulation

    Several technologies are available to nutritionists to formulate low-P, environmentally friendly swine diets. P excretion can be reduced by feeding diets that do not have excessive levels of P. For example, feeding 0.2% more P than is needed in a grow-finish diet — a common practice a few years ago — will result in a 70% greater P excretion, compared with feeding P levels that meet '98 NRC standards.

Balancing diets on a bioavailable P, or nonphytate P, basis also helps to avoid overages and is an effective tool to more precisely meet P requirements. An appropriate reduction in the dietary P level and the addition of a phytase supplement is presently one of the most effective strategies that can be used.

Table 1. Performance of Growing Pigs Fed Normal- or Low-Phytate Corn and Soybean Meal with Supplemental Inorganic Phosphorus
Normal Corn + Normal Soybean Meal Low-Phytate Corn + Low-Phytate Soybean Meal
Supplemental P, % 0.20 0.10 0.00 0.20 0.10 0.00
Total P, % 0.56 0.46 0.36 0.59 0.49 0.39
Bioavailable P, % 0.27 0.17 0.07 0.44 0.34 0.24
Daily gain, lb. 1.76 1.66 1.38 1.77 1.76 1.74
Feed/gain, lb. 2.22 2.30 2.62 2.24 2.16 2.19
Fecal P excretion, g./d 7.0 6.2 5.3 5.1 4.0 3.3
Reduction in fecal P, % 27 43 53

New Feedlot Rule Simplifies Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a pared-down Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) final rule to protect the nation's waterways from wastewater and manure.

EPA's proposal to change its 25-year-old rule on CAFOs has been revised to create a new final rule that is less complex and less onerous. Gone from the previous proposal are a “zero discharge” standard and provisions for co-permitting and third-party user certification.

EPA has also simplified the final version, in the process reducing the annual financial burden from $980 million to $335 million. Government (federal and state) will spend $9 million/year to administer the program to be fully implemented by 2007.

But the 400-plus-page federal document still ushers in some strict regulations specifically targeted at the larger hog operations in the U.S., which EPA says pose the greatest environmental risk.

Even with Environmental Quality Improvement Program (EQIP) funding, EPA expects the CAFO rule could result in the closure of 3% of the large CAFOs. (See EQIP story, page 12.)

Permitting Changes

“This rule increases participation by four to five times the number of hogs that are going to be permitted,” remarks David Roper, Kimberly, ID, producer and outgoing president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). “At the end of the day, EPA's goal is to have 80% of the hogs produced in this country under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit system and covered by the CAFO regulations.”

In all, EPA estimates the CAFO rule will cover 15,500 livestock operations of all species, up from 4,500 in 2002.

Under the rule, if livestock operations feed or maintain animals in a confined area for 45 days of the year, or more and meet the size requirement for a CAFO, they will be required to have an approved NPDES permit. The size requirement defining a CAFO is based on the largest number of head that the facility will be handling at any one time over the course of the permit period, explains Tom Hebert, analyst for Capitolink, an agricultural consulting firm in Washington, DC, used by NPPC.

EPA maintains the current permitting structure, defined as large (>2,500 hogs), medium (<2,500 hogs) and small (<750 hogs) categories. Large operations are automatically defined as CAFOs. Medium operations will only be subject to the rule if certain risk factors exist. Small operations are exempt unless an inspector determines the operation is discharging directly into surface waters. Table 1 outlines some CAFO rules.

Table 1. CAFO Requirements by Size of Operation
Requirements <100 A.U.* 100-299 A.U. 300-999 A.U. 1,000 A.U. and up
No pollution; maximize nutrient levels; maintain setbacks. Yes Yes Yes Yes
Manure tests for nitrogen and phosphorus No Yes Yes Yes
Soil test for phosphorus No No Yes Yes
Develop and maintain manure management plan No If permit required If permit required or applied by non-certified person after 2005. Yes
Records of land application No Yes Yes Yes
*A.U. = animal units

And, EPA is mandating a CAFO permit for a new category — an operation with 10,000 or more nursery pigs under 55 lb.

Permits may also be needed for an operation with 750 or more 55-lb. pigs or heavier if:

  • A man-made ditch or pipe carries manure from your operation to surface water; or

  • Your animals come into contact with surface water running through the area where they're confined, explains Capitolink's Hebert.

This will mark the first time that all of the nation's largest operations are automatically defined as CAFOs.

Discharge Rule Changes

The new permitting process under the Clean Water Act requires permits from the states or EPA, regardless of the risk of any manure containment facility discharging during large storms.

“A permit will be required even if your facility already is designed to contain the storm water from a 25-year, 24-hour rainfall event,” points out Hebert.

“All existing operations must contain all of the rain and process wastewater associated with up to a 25-year, 24-hour storm,” he adds. “But if you have a new or significantly expanding swine operation (called “new sources”), then your facility must be designed to contain the rainfall and process wastewater from a 100-year, 24-hour storm.”

Those producers would essentially have to add up to one more foot of freeboard, depending on the design of their lagoon capacity and expected rainfall amounts, Roper says.

Permits are good for five years and producers must submit annual reviews highlighting key information.

Timetable, NPPC Assistance

The final CAFO rule was published in the Federal Register on Feb. 10. EPA will issue guidance to states to implement the CAFO rule in mid-2003. States, which have been given flexibility in adoption, will be given 1-2 years to incorporate any needed changes. Producers with existing CAFOs aren't affected until time of renewal.

Producers seeking to renew permits after 2004 will have to meet the new CAFO requirements.

Producers aren't required to get an On-Farm Assessment and Environmental Review. But NPPC stresses it can be a key tool to help producers identify and address any concerns.

Producers should also work to adopt a nutrient management plan. Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans developed for the Agriculture Department, will fully meet the nutrient management planning requirements under the NPDES CAFO rule, says Hebert. That plan may include the use of a phosphorus index.

Permitted operations must meet a variety of manure management, land setback and application guidelines, testing requirements and handle dead animals and chemicals properly.

Many of those changes could add significantly to producers' cost of operation, warns Hebert.

Within the next several months, NPPC will be providing producers with what they need to do to get ready for the new EPA regulations.

Hebert and Roper agree that having a permit won't protect producers from environmental lawsuits. But Hebert says having a permit and staying in compliance will make a citizen's suit far less likely to be filed and won.

In return, EPA estimates the CAFO rule will remove 166 million lb. of nutrients and 2.2 billion lb. of sediment loads from existing discharges. Hydrogen sulfide emissions will drop by 12%, methane by 11%, they predict.

Economic benefits, estimated by EPA at $204 to $355 million/year, will be derived from:

  • Increased use of waters for recreation ($166-299 million);

  • Reduced nitrate contamination of private drinking wells ($31-46 million);

  • Better shellfish harvests ($0.3-3.4 million);

  • Fewer fish kills ($100,000);

  • Reduced drinking water treatment ($1.1-1.7 million) costs; and

  • Less loss of livestock to disease ($5.3 million).

EPA projects other benefits for reduced fecal contamination, reduced eutrophication (aquatic losses caused by excessive nutrient loading), reduced human health and ecological risks, improved soil quality and less use of fertilizers.

To learn more about the rule, click on Hard copies of these documents are available by calling the Office of Water Resource Center, (202) 566-1729. Additional information is available via the CAFO phone line at (202) 564-0766 and on USDA's Web site

Checkoff Provides Nutrient Management Education

A pork checkoff-funded curriculum pinpoints ways that Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMPs) can help producers comply with the new federal Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) rules.

The CNMP Producer Curriculum is available to pork producers at no charge. Call the Pork Checkoff Producer Service Center at (800) 456-7675.

Although not required, a CNMP can help producers meet nutrient management plans, says Steve Stover, project developer. Those plans must be filed by Dec. 31, 2006.