10: Environmental Regulations

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10: Environmental Regulations

Agriculture Environmental Management (AEM)

www.nys-soilandwater.org/aem/index.html

In order to be successful in the long-term, every farm must sustain or improve its soil, water, and plant resources. Beyond regulatory compliance, it is to a farmer’s advantage to incorporate good environmental management practices during their initial planning, rather than confronting costly mitigation measures later. Whether at the early planning stages or when seeking improvements to current environmental management, AEM operates through a purely voluntary and confidential approach at the county level through Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) offices. One-on-one assistance is generally available to walk your land with you to assess existing stewardship as well as areas of concern and to help you further advance environmental management on your farm. These offices will also have information on funding sources (grants, loans, cost-shares) for implementing conservation practices on your farm.

Locate your local county SWCD office at: www.nys-soilandwater.org/contacts/county_offices.html

Laws and Regulations

There are several laws that may impact your ecological management, mostly when it comes to how your management decisions impact others downstream of your farm:

NYS Water Quality RegulationsFarmers must comply with New York State water regulations to protect surface and ground water from contamination from eroded soil, pH, fecal coliforms, excessive nitrate and phosphorus levels. If the Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) determines that you are the cause of a water quality violation, your farm will be subject to a fine and farming practices may be restricted or prohibited. This law applies to all land owners and farm operators.http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/23853.html
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) RegulationsFarms with large numbers of animals (e.g. 300+ mature dairy cows) must have a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permit.

Details of a permit:
Requires a comprehensive nutrient management plan to be completed and updated annually by a certified Agricultural Environmental Management Planner. Plan covers animal manure, wastewater, silage leachate run-off and more.
Requires expansion to be planned and limited by the farms ability to handle nutrients/wastes produced.
Does not protect the farm in the event of a manure spill or discharge. If a spill takes place the farmer has 24 hours to report it to the state and 5 days to file a written statement on what happened.
http://bit.ly/2Mr7EoF
Conservation of Wetlands and Highly Erodible Lands
Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985 aim to reduce soil loss on erosion-prone lands and to protect wetlands for the multiple benefits they provide. HELC and WC provisions apply to all land that is considered highly erodible or a wetland, and that is owned or farmed by persons voluntarily participating in USDA programs.

Activities not allowed under HELC and WC:
planting an agricultural commodity on highly erodible land or a converted wetland
converting a wetland to make agricultural production possible
creating new drainage or modifying, improving, or maintaining existing drainage
conducting land leveling, filling, dredging, land clearing, or stump removal of trees

Producers who are enrolled in USDA programs and planning to conduct activities that may affect their HEL or WC compliance must notify the FSA by filing form AD-1026. FSA will notify the NRCS, which will then provide highly erodible land or wetland technical evaluations and issue determinations if needed.
For more information, contact your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office or visit: http://bit.ly/NRCSnationalprograms
Navigable Waters LawUnder Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has regulatory authority over any temporary or permanent structures constructed in, over, or under navigable waters of the United States. Under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulates the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including freshwater wetlands. Certain types of activities, such as land-clearing using mechanized equipment and/or sidecasting, in a jurisdictional water would likely be regulated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

Many normal farming activities, such as such as plowing, seeding, cultivating, minor drainage, and harvesting for the production of food, fiber, and forest products, or upland soil and water conservation practices on established, on-going farming or ranching operations are exempt from Corps permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act. However, discharges that bring an area into agriculture or back into agriculture if it has been abandoned or fallow may require a permit from the Corps of Engineers.
http://bit.ly/BuffaloRegulatoryProgram

Fact Sheet Overview

    Pesticide Application

    When using pesticides, the Label is Law – make sure you read it!

    Becoming Certified

    Any farmer using restricted-use pesticides to protect crops and animals from pests on property owned or rented for the production of an agricultural commodity is considered a “private” applicator, and must become certified by the DEC and show their pesticide license when purchasing these products. General use pesticides, considered to be safer and in general use, do not require applicator certification for purchase and use.

    Pesticide application laws apply to organic production too!
    http://pesticideresources.org/wps/jfy/agemp/organic.html

    To be eligible for certification:

    • Must have at least one season’s experience working with the crops, livestock or stored products on which you will use pesticides and be at least 17 years of age

    To become certified: 

    • Must take an exam based on information in the Pesticide Training Manual (Core Manual)
    • Additionally, there are questions pertaining to the situation in which you use pesticides (Category Manual)

    You can obtain manuals through county Cooperative Extension offices. Cooperative Extension also offers pesticide applicator training programs or you may study on your own and make an appointment with the DEC to take the exam.

    Pesticide Applicator Certification:
    For more information on becoming certified, visit the DEC’s website:
    http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/45618.html

    Worker Protection Standard (WPS)

    If you have employees who will be applying pesticides for your operation, you are required to provide proper training on safe handling and application of these chemicals. See all requirements here:
    https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/agricultural-worker-protection-standard-wps#requires

    Recertification

    During the 5 years that you are certified, you must obtain continuing education credits toward recertification. Credits can be obtained by attending meetings where pest management topics are discussed and credits offered.

    A “Course Calendar” can be found at:
    http://psep.cce.cornell.edu/certification/Recertification.aspx

    Search the database of NYSDEC approved courses in your area.

    Credits for Private Recertification:

    • 8 for Agricultural Animal (Livestock & Poultry) and Aquatics
    • 10 for Agricultural Plant (Field & Forage, Fruit, Vegetable, Greenhouse & Florist and Nursery & Ornamentals)
    • Credits must be earned in more than one calendar year and consist of at least 25% category-specific training in each category of certification

    You are obligated to keep records of the credits you receive and turn in record sheets to DEC when they notify you that your license is about to expire. If you do not have the required credits, you will have to take the exam again.

    For Questions about the Certification Process and Exams:
    Call the Department of Environmental Conservation office in your region.
    For NYS, regional DEC office contact information can be found at:
    http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/45618.html

    Upon passing the exam, your certification is valid for 5 years. There is a fee for the exam and for the certification license.

    For Information on Manuals and Training:
    Contact your county Cooperative Extension office, or the Pesticide Management Education Program.
    http://psep.cce.cornell.edu/certification/Certification.aspx
    607-255-1866

    Credits for Private Recertification:

    • 8 for Agricultural Animal (Livestock & Poultry) and Aquatics
    • 10 for Agricultural Plant (Field & Forage, Fruit, Vegetable, Greenhouse & Florist and Nursery & Ornamentals)
    • Credits must be earned in more than one calendar year and consist of at least 25% category-specific training in each category of certification

    You are obligated to keep records of the credits you receive and turn in record sheets to DEC when they notify you that your license is about to expire. If you do not have the required credits, you will have to take the exam again.