Air and Water Quality
“Since 1996, nitrate levels have dropped by 87 percent. Better livestock facilities and modern farm management practices are making the difference.” —Randy Pleima, General Manager, Mahaska Rural Water Systems, Inc.
Protecting air and water quality is a high priority for responsible farmers. After all, they live and raise their families on the land, breathe the same air and drink the same water as you so doing things right is not only a responsibility — it’s a way of life.
The Coalition believes livestock farmers have an obligation to not only meet all rules and regulations, but to exceed them. A recent survey of 475 rural wells in 89 of Iowa’s 99 counties suggests farmers are doing just that. Dick Fawcett, a former Iowa State University professor who consults on agricultural water quality issues, says the decline in numbers of wells with pesticides detected (no well had a pesticide level even close to violating drinking water standards) shows how farmers have successfully made changes to protect groundwater and wells.
Mark Pingenot, Field Coordinator with Trees Forever, says a growing interest in installing conservation structures like grass buffer strips,
waterways and filter strips has also contributed to less soil erosion
and improved water quality.
“EPA has two important jobs: enforcing the Clean Water Act and educating about the benefits of cleaner water. Responsible livestock farmers understand and work with the agency to advance both goals.” —Karl Brooks, EPA Regional Administrator
In addition, livestock farmers are concerned about odor emission and employ odor-control strategies such as filtration and bio-filtration systems, impermeable barriers, oil sprinkling inside barns, dietary manipulation and establishing vegetative environmental buffers (VEBs). VEBs are rows of trees and shrubs purposefully planted around livestock and poultry buildings to help control odor emissions. To help farmers plan and implement a VEB, CSIF recommends the Green Farmstead Partner program. Farmers are also careful to store and apply manure in ways to cause the least amount of odor and inconvenience for neighbors.