Obtaining MDARD site verification for livestock production facilities that have already been built

Livestock farms who have added production facilities since August 2000 are still eligible for MDARD siting GAAMP verification.

Recent legislative action has established the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) in statute and provided Michigan farmers additional environmental incentives for participating in MAEAP. Farms must be in compliance with all the applicable Michigan Right-to-Farm Generally Accepted Agriculture Management Practices (GAAMPs) as one requirement for MAEAP verification.

In the past, not all livestock farms have utilized the GAAMPs for Site Selection and Odor Control for New and Expanding Livestock Production Facilities (Siting GAAMPs). To be recognized as MAEAP verified any farm with a new or expanded livestock facility or manure storage structure built after August 2003 will need to be in compliance with the Siting GAAMPs. With the changes to the MAEAP program, and the added incentives provided by MAEAP verification, livestock farm owners and managers may be reconsidering their choices. The Siting GAAMPs do allow for post construction verification and is an option some may want to consider. At the very least, they may want to know if the facility can meet Siting GAAMP verification requirements. There is preliminary information that managers, and the individuals they regularly consult with, can gather on their own to determine the feasibility of MDA Site Verification. A copy of the Siting GAAMPS will be useful in this process and can be downloaded.

Steps for determining feasibility of Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Site Verification:

The farm will need a complete Manure Management Systems Plan (MMSP). The plan will need to indicate 100% of the manure nutrients accumulated on the farm are utilized on the farm, transferred to another farm or utilized in other acceptable processes. All fields used for manure applications must have been soil tested within the last three years.

Determine the site’s category. Section III of the Siting GAAMP’s define Categories 1, 2 and 3 and the corresponding property line setbacks. Category is determined by the number of non-farm residences within ¼ mile or ½ mile depending on the number of animal units housed on the farm.

Property line setbacks are provided in Tables 2, 3, 4 and 5 within Section III. Property line setbacks are adjusted based on the size of the livestock facility, the location’s category and if it is a new or expanding operation. These setbacks may be reduced up to 50% by MDARD based on the farm’s odor management plan (OMP). Further reductions are dependent on a variance granted by the impacted property owner.

The well isolation distance from manure storage structures can be determined using worksheets. Local conservation district offices and county health departments can help determine the correct well isolation distance. While not a pleasant consideration, if the well setback does not meet the setback standards, installing a properly located new well will allow Site Verification.

The Siting GAAMPs require that all manure storage structures be built to either Mid-West Plan Service or Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) 313 standards. If as-built documentation is not available to confirm the construction standards, there are other options. Drawings showing construction standards may be acceptable. Receipts showing the amount and size of rebar and strength of concrete used to build the manure storage are another option. Clay lined storages are not conducive to visual evaluation so, if as-built documentation isn’t available, the liner for an earthen manure storage structure will need to be evaluated by a private engineer. Contact the MDARD Environmental Stewardship Division for assistance in determining what method is acceptable for your farm.

Livestock farms that are either located in Category 2 sites, housing over 1,000 animal units or requesting MDARD property line setback reductions will need an odor management plan (OMP). The key component of the OMP that may impact post construction site verification requests are the results of the MI OFFSET odor footprint tool. Farmers and farm managers may need assistance with MI OFFSET. MSU Extension educators, Michigan Water Stewardship Program (MWSP) technicians, nutrient management consultants and commodity group field technicians are available to assist farmers with OMPs and other factors in the Siting GAAMPs process.

The Siting GAAMP’s are intended for preconstruction site verification. Livestock farmers wanting the Right-to-Farm protection they provide are highly encouraged to make site verification part of their construction planning process. Farmers who have opted against using the site verification process in the past, but with the changes to the MAEAP program are now reconsidering their decision, do have the option of post-construction site verification.

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