Environmentalists file suit over easing of CAFO regs in New York

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A coalition of environmental organizations is suing the New York Department of Environmental Conservation over dairy farm regulations intended to bolster to the state’s yogurt industry.

The groups, including Sierra Club, Riverkeeper and Citizens Campaign for the Environment, allege that the state violated the federal Clean Water Act earlier this year after easing the size requirement on farms that quality as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). 

Now, farms can have up to 300 mature dairy cows before they are counted as CAFOs, meaning that farms between 200 and 299 cows can escape designation. Previously, farms with 200 or more cows were counted.

Click here to read the updated regulations.

N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo explained in an April press release that “eliminating this costly regulatory burden on relatively small farms allows farmers to reinvest their resources to expand operations allowing the state to grow its milk production for the yogurt industry.”

“CAFO farms that discharge remain subject to the Clean Water Act,” Cuomo added.

The lawsuit also claims the Department of Environmental Conservation needed legislative approval to make the change to the CAFO rules, which it did not obtain, according to The (White Plains, N.Y.) Journal NewsRead more here.

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Ohio  |  August, 01, 2013 at 09:36 PM

When even 200-300 cows are on cement in fenced areas, their manure is usually mixed with large quantities of water to make slurry, and then stored in plastic lined pits. you can have overflows/ stream pollution in rainy weather. SLURRY storage is a big culprit. You can pump pits out in spring before planting to apply on cropland, or in fall when crops come off. You legally shouldn't apply slurry when there is snow. Liquid slurry gets into even earthworm holes and tile drains and from there into streams. It uses huge amounts of water from the watertable. Expanding herds which usually have to be kept on concrete, have cement floor related injuries to the cows feet/legs. It shortens their productive lives. Didn't Watertown have to shut down its water purification plant for 3 days when one slurry pit broke its walls and flooded the river? The entire city had to drink bottled water for 3 days due to one spill. How about Michigan with Vrebo Hoff Dutch dairy and pages of its citations. Judges should thoroughly read the consequences of expanding herds before making decisions. The west end of Lake Erie had red tide, partly due to dairy runoff. Smaller dairies, with cows on sufficient pasture that manure is broken down naturally in about 6 weeks, help prevent these horror stories. Pastured cows average much longer / healthier productive lives. Solid manure storage avoids the excessive use of water from the water table, and helps prevent manure slurry getting into tiles and streams.

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