Changes to the process for siting new and expanding livestock operations

Livestock producers and contractors planning construction projects in 2011 need to be aware of recent changes to the process for siting new and expanding livestock operations.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) recently announced significant changes to the process for siting new and expanding livestock operations. The changes include modifications to the siting process contained in the updated 2011 Generally Accepted Agriculture Management Practices for Site Selection and Odor Control for New and Expanding Livestock Production Facilities (Siting GAAMPs). These changes were previously discussed in Updates to Michigan Siting GAAMPS.

Other changes announced by MDARD concerning existing state regulations and their application to the Siting GAAMPs.

In order to be in conformance with Siting GAAMP guidelines all new and expanding manure storage facilities must be built to either the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) 313 construction standards or Midwest Plan Service guidelines. Large CAFO’s, those farms exceeding 1,000 animal units, are required to construct manure storage structures to the NRCS 313 standards to fulfill the requirements of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (M-DEQ) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Producers submitting requests for siting verification also submit documentation and drawings documenting that the manure storage structure meets applicable standards and guidelines. MDARD has regularly accepted standardized contractor drawings as documentation that the proposed structure would meet the applicable requirements. Future designs and drawings submitted for MDARD review and site verification must be sealed by a professional engineer licensed in Michigan.

A second change is MDARD’s requirement for “as-built” documentation, also signed by a Michigan licensed engineer, indicating the engineer has monitored the construction process. The as-built provides evidence the manure storage was completed as designed, or changes made in the design during construction also meet the standards. This documentation is expected to be made available during MDARD’s post construction verification when MDARD makes the agency’s final visit to the project and prior to sending the final site verification letter to the farmer.

According to a letter released by MDARD on March 15, 2011 these changes bring the Siting GAAMPs into conformance with The Michigan Occupational Code, P.A. 299 of 1980, as amended.

While these changes may seem onerous, their application in the field will actually ensure farmers the manure storage structure will meet their expectations and the standards they are paying for. Construction projects often mean dealing with unplanned circumstances and making changes to the design plan. This new application of the GAAMP guidelines helps ensure farmers they have documentation the manure storage was designed and built to intended design standards. Given the current cost of construction and other agency regulations farmers are required to meet, this documentation is worth having.  

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