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EPA Awards $52,500 to Farm Bureau to Reduce Water Pollution in New Jersey

Release Date: 06/30/2003
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(#03075) At a dairy farm in Warren County, New Jersey, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny today awarded a $52,500 grant to the New Jersey Farm Bureau for a new project to help farmers across the state reduce pollution from livestock operations. The grant is part of a larger EPA effort to protect the nation's waters by reducing agricultural "non- point source" pollution, which can be generated when rainwater flows through farms.

"New Jersey's farms provide valuable open space and play an essential role in the state's economy," said EPA's Kenny at Gibbs Quest Farm in Allamuchy. "But some farms especially those with animal feed operations have the potential to contribute harmful bacteria and excess nutrients to New Jersey's waterways. EPA is proud to support the Farm Bureau's efforts to help farmers improve the environment and increase the efficiency of their operations."

Accepting the grant from Regional Administrator Kenny was Richard Nieuwenhuis, President of the New Jersey Farm Bureau. Also joining Ms. Kenny were: New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus; Zane Helsel, Director of National Regional Partnerships, Cook College/N.J. Agricultural Experiment Station, Rutgers University; Anthony Kramer, State Conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Peter Furey, Executive Director of the New Jersey Farm Bureau; and Frank, Brant and Keith Gibbs, owners of Gibbs Quest Farm.

"New Jersey farmers do a good job of managing their operations and protecting the environment," said Mr. Nieuwenhuis. "The Farm Bureau, Cook College and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture are always looking for ways to help our farmers employ the latest best management practices in all areas of agriculture. This project will enable us to reach out to livestock operators and suggest helpful water quality protection measures."

To ensure better protection of the nation's waterways from wastewater and manure, in December 2002 then-EPA Administrator Christie Whitman signed a rule that for the first time requires all large concentrated animal feeding operations to get permits from state environmental agencies. The new rule primarily applies to large livestock operations that raise more than 1,000 head of cattle, 700 dairy cows, 2,500 swine, 10,000 sheep, 125,000 chickens, 82,000 laying hens or 55,000 confined turkeys. The nation's 238,000 large animal feed operations, most of which are located outside the Northeast, generate a total of 500 million tons of manure annually, and present a threat to the nation's water quality. The rule does not, however, regulate smaller animal feed operations like most of those in New Jersey, provided they effectively manage their waste. The Farm Bureau's efforts are essential to help smaller operations take steps to improve local surface and ground water quality.

With the EPA grant, the Farm Bureau, Rutgers Cooperative Extension and The New Jersey Department of Agriculture will educate livestock producers statewide about how best to manage their waste and keep it from entering the environment. At local farms and in discussions with commodity groups, the Farm Bureau will show farmers how to identify potential sources of water pollution from animal waste, and will make farmers more familiar with measures they can take to prevent it. The project will also expand an already existing Farm Bureau sponsored program to reduce the amount of fertilizers and pesticides farmers use by providing them with free soil quality assessments. This program has already reduced the amount of fertilizers used by New Jersey farmers by 223,583 pounds, and has saved farmers $71,500 in fertilizer costs. The Farm Bureau also hopes to encourage farmers to develop comprehensive nutrient management plans for their operations.

Manure a good fertilizer because it contains nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients that are essential to crop production and is the only fertilizer used by organic farmers. When managed well, it can be prevented from entering water bodies like streams and lakes, fueling algae blooms, reducing the amount of sunlight that reaches essential aquatic plants and depriving fish, shellfish and other aquatic life of a necessary food source.

Gibbs Quest Farm is a 500-acre dairy operation that grows its own feed -- corn, alfalfa, soybeans and oats -- for 200 cows. The farm has undertaken several environmental management projects, including: implementing a liquid manure management system; constructing fences to keep cattle out of streams; and minimizing the plowing of fields. Gibbs Quest Farm was one of the first farms to enroll in a farmland preservation program that ultimately created the largest contiguous area of deed-restricted farmland in northern New Jersey.