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Environmental groups support restrictions on manure spreading

Mark Brush
Michigan Radio
A Michigan hog farmer injects liquid manure into his field.

Environmental groups are supporting a permit that further restricts spreading animal manure on farm fields.

Livestock farmers and the Michigan Farm Bureau are suing the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to stop changes in the general operating permit for Confined Animal Feeding Operations. Now environmental groups are siding with the agency to enforce the stricter regulations, seeking to legally intervene.

Tom Zimnicki is with the Michigan Environmental Council. He says the changes are necessary.

“As those facilities get bigger and more concentrated, that we make sure that the permit has the transparency, the reporting requirements, the tracking, and the science to really ensure that we are limiting excess nutrients and bacteria from entering waterways.”

The environmental groups wanted even more restrictions, but did not get them.

“I think it is a balance between the two, but it still makes important steps forward in terms of protecting water quality compared to previous permits,” Zimnicki said.

In a previous report from Michigan Radio, an attorney for the livestock farmers said the permit changes put farmers at a disadvantage and says the state should go through a cost/benefit analysis before requiring stricter regulations on the large livestock operations.

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Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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