Yesterday, Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell announced stronger regulations for large-scale farming operations and new manure management requirements for all agricultural operations designed to protect Pennsylvania waterways.

The changes go beyond federal requirements and will increase the number of livestock operations classified as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations from 165 to 350. The new requirements were issued by the Department of Environmental Protection.

In addition, new nutrient management regulations developed by the Department of Agriculture and currently being implemented by the State Conservation Commission through county conservation districts, will result in a 600 percent jump of highly-regulated farms. More than 5,000 farms are now required to have full nutrient management plans as well as vegetative buffers or setbacks along the edge of streams to protect Pennsylvania waterways.

To enhance water resource protection and water quality, revisions were made that clarify and strengthen requirements related to agricultural operations, including provisions for manure storage facilities and land application of manure.  This includes minimum setbacks and buffers along the edge of streams where no manure can be applied.

Under the new regulations, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations now are required to set up either a 100-foot setback or a 35-foot vegetated buffer from water bodies for manure application.  Farms that import manure must meet the same setback and buffer requirements as the farm that produces the manure. More large manure storage systems also will require DEP permits.

"These regulations were crafted in partnership with the state's farmers and designed to protect the rural quality of life while supporting commercially competitive agricultural production,” says Rendell.  “Implementing these new rules will keep our environment clean and ensure farming remains a critical part of Pennsylvania's economy."

"Throughout the regulatory process, our goal was to provide agriculture with the opportunity to grow and adapt to business changes, while also addressing the needs of communities to protect the environment," said Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolf.  "These regulations are a careful balance between the two."

A complete copy of the regulations can be found in the Oct. 22 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin. To view, go to:  http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol35/35-43/1945.html

PennsylvaniaOffice of the Governor, PRNewswire