Friday, May 27, 2011

Purdue Extension Offers Webcast on Delayed Planting Issues

Purdue Extension will offer a public teleconference/webinar focused on the delayed planting issues facing Indiana farmers Friday, May 27, 2011 from 2 to 3 p.m. EDT for the public

For more information, click here:  Purdue Webcast Information

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fight Over Tractor Teaches the Lesson of "Mutual Mistake"

Representative photo.

In Tracy v. Morell (Ind. Ct. App. 2011), the Indiana Court of Appeals recently resolved a dispute between a buyer and seller of a tractor using the principle of "mutual mistake."

In 2002, Mr. Morell sold Mr. Tracy a used 2002 Ford New Holland tractor for $12,500.  Tracy signed a promissory note promising to pay Morell $500 down and $500 per month until the note was paid in full.  Tracy paid only $8500 on the note.

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Confined Feed Operation (CFO) Rules: Coming Soon to an Indiana Farm Near You

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM)'s Water Pollution Control Board today preliminarily adopted new Confined Feeding Operation (CFO) regulations.  The preliminary adoption means that these regulations will now undergo a final public comment period before they come back to the Water Pollution Control Board for final adoption.  After that happens, likely a few months from now, the new CFO regulations will be law.  But what changes are in store for Indiana's CFOs (and those that become CFOs)?

First, let's do the numbers.  The CFO rule applies to Indiana's farms with more than 300 cattle, 600 swine, 600 sheep, 30,000 fowl, or 500 horses.  There are ways that even smaller farms can be forced into the CFO program by IDEM, for example, if the small farm has continually is causing violations of water pollution laws. (For more on CFOs, click: What-is-a-CFO?)

One of the requirements in the application for a CFO is the submittal of a "farmstead plan."  Among other requirements, the farmstead plan must show how uncontaminated surface water is diverted from production areas in the farm.  From a practical standpoint, this means that CFOs will have to demonstrate to IDEM that clean water, for example, run off from barn rooftops, does not mix with dirty water, for example, silage leachate, before it is channeled into a ditch or stream.  In the past, CFOs did not have to manage this type of clean stormwater. It is unclear whether illustrating where surface water goes on the farmstead plan also means the CFO must actively manage the surface water.

CFOs area also required to put practices in place for "mortality management."  Simply stated, this means that a CFO must manage the storage of dead animals to avoid contact with clean stormwater.

The new CFO rules would also give IDEM the authority to require CFOs to implement groundwater monitoring to ensure that no manure related constituents enter groundwater.  The rules leave the door open for IDEM to require some facilities to develop written "ground water monitoring plans" for this purpose.  The CFO operator would have to periodically submit groundwater results to IDEM for review.  Not all CFOs will be subject to these requirements.

The new CFO regulations contain a prohibition on land application on "frozen" or "snow covered" ground. For many currently permitted CFOs, winter land application in the past has been a must.  Indiana winters are just too long to stockpile manure until spring weather arrives. These farms will face some tough decisions the first winter after the new CFO rules go into effect.

The new CFO rule requires that a CFO "must be designed, constructed, and maintained with a combined storage capacity of at least one hundred eighty (180) days storage."  In the past, IDEM permitted facilities with 120 days or 90 days of manure storage.  While the 180 day requirement is not new, there is concern that the prohibition on application on frozen or snow covered ground will, in essence, mean that all CFOs must have at least 180 days of manure storage capacity to make it through the winter. 

The new CFO regulations have been preliminarily adopted.  They are subject to change during the final comment period.  If you have comments on these issues or others, please submit those to IDEM.  A copy of the new version of the draft CFO regulations is found at:  Draft-CFO-Rule

Legal disclaimer: Nothing in this post should be relied upon as legal advice for how to comply with IDEM's CFO regulations.  Consult an attorney if you need assistance with compliance questions.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Is There Room for Everyone in Agriculture's Tent?

"For the billion of underfed people in the world today, there are a billion-and-a-half that are overweight."

This is one of the interesting facts I heard last night on my drive home from work on NPR's Marketplace.  The statement highlights that many in the world go hungry while some of us, this author included, have more food than we really need. Marketplace asked whether organic and non-GMO agriculture are sufficient to solve this problem and feed a growing worldwide population:
The United Nations says a billion people go hungry on this planet each day. And the overall population is growing. Experts expect we'll top 9 billion by 2045. The looming question: How to feed everyone with limited resources? This week, several major foundations -- including Ford and Gates -- launched a $3 million a year initiative aimed at figuring out how to come up with the food we need.  -Tess Vigeland, Marketplace
The author, Adrienne Hill, interviews some of these experts and suggests that although organic and non-GMO foods may play a role in feeding some, the lower yields are just not enough to feed a growing global population:
The farmers markets in Los Angeles these days are piled high with organic strawberries and kale. To the contented shoppers, this is what the future should be -- fruits and veggies grown on small farms, nearby the city. But, get over it. This isn't the future -- not if we want to feed everyone.  -Adrienne Hill, Marketplace
Continue reading or listening to this story at Marketplace:  the-non-organic-future