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Farmers: Follow feedlot rule debate

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

simmet@agrinews.com

OELWEIN, Iowa -- Des; Moines attorney Eldon McAfee wants pork producers to get involved in the debate over whether the state should establish air quality standards for confined animal feeding operations.

Speaking at last week's meeting on swine finishing in Oelwein, McAfee said the concentrated animal feeding operations air quality study completed by 27 researchers from Iowa State University and the University of Iowa has generated considerable controversy.

The report recommended that the DNR establish ambient air quality standards for hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and odor around confined animal feeding operations.

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"To say that the reaction from farm groups was negative would be an understatement," said McAfee, who is legal counsel for the Iowa Pork Producers Association. "The study was very disappointing to me. The science that it relied on was very questionable, and you're going to hear a lot more from your producer groups about it.''

The report, requested by Gov. Tom Vilsack, was presented to the Environmental Protection Commission last week. Department of Natural Resources Director Jeff Vonk told the EPC he would have an action plan for responding to the report's recommendations at the March meeting.

"It sounds like it's on a fast track,'' McAfee said. "The rule-making process itself will take at least six months, and there will be opportunities for input.''

Livestock producers need to read the newspaper and pay attention to the process, McAfee said.

"Give your input if you can because it will affect a lot of us,'' he said. "I think there will be opportunities to introduce other science that disputes the report. The organizations you belong to will make every effort to get that science injected into the process so that some common sense comes back into this.''

The swine finishing meeting, one of five held across Iowa, was sponsored by the Iowa Pork Industry Center, Iowa State University Extension and the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

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