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Group confronts state officials about manure plan oversight

Group confronts state officials about manure plan oversight

DES MOINES (AP) — A citizens’ action group filed a complaint Tuesday accusing Iowa environmental officials of failing to closely review waste-management reports about how farms spread manure as fertilizer, saying the operations are leaving out law-mandated information.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement alleges that numerous farms haven’t submitted reports, meaning millions of gallons of manure may be unaccounted for. The group said some reports have missing pages, while others indicate that multiple farmers are dumping manure on the same field in violation of state laws designed to prevent over-application that could lead to water pollution.

The reports are intended to outline how farms plan to handle manure, including operations that can produce hundreds of thousands of gallons of manure each year. Statewide, about 9,000 largescale commercial livestock farms produce an estimated 10 billion gallons of liquid manure annually.

Department of Natural Resources officials questioned some of the group’s allegations, including that so many reports haven’t been submitted, but said they would fully review the complaint.

“Water quality is something that is very important to us and it’s certainly important to Iowans and we regulate that based on our legal authority as best we can,” DNR Director Chuck Gipp said.

Members of the Des Moines-based group met for an hour in a public meeting with top officials from the agency, which is responsible for regulating livestock manure and water quality.

“It’s clear that the DNR is failing to monitor where livestock confinement manure is being spread,” said Jess Mazour, a community organizer with Iowa CCI. “No one knows but the person turning the nozzle how much manure is actually going on some of these fields. They’re just dumping it to get rid of it instead of tracking it as a benefit for the soil and crops.”

Iowa is the nation’s leading hog producer, with roughly 21 million hogs. The state also has millions of egg-laying chickens, in addition to cattle and sheep farms. The plentiful supply of manure, which is rich in nitrogen and phosphorous, also is a reason why Iowa leads the nation in corn production.

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