Livestock producers are wondering about what will happen in October of 2010 when the date of the open feedlot agreements signed between 2000 and 2005 come due. Some producers will consider selling their livestock and getting out of the business rather than worry about what the October deadline will mean. In order to clarify some of the issues on this topic this is what we know so far.
Open Lot Agreements and the October 1st, 2010 Deadline - Final decisions on how the Open Lot Agreement deadline will be handled will be coming soon. Representatives from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the Board of Water and Soil Resources have formed a committee with assistance from the Assistant Commissioners from each state agency to determine how the October 2010 deadline will be handled for farmers in different situations.
Here are the current facts as we know them:
-Producers who did not actually sign the Open Lot Agreement between 2000 and 2005 are not obligated to meet any open lot agreement timelines. Producers who did not sign the agreement with their county feedlot officer or regional pollution control agency feedlot staff are not required to comply by October 2010. The Open Lot Agreement deadline only applies to individuals who signed the agreement.
Producers who did sign the Open Lot Agreement, who have 300 animal units or less, who have applied for cost share but did not or cannot secure 75% cost share for any feedlot correction cannot be forced to spend more than $3,000 according to Minnesota law. This law applies to all situations regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in the Open Lot Agreement. This same law also states that feedlots between 300 to 500 animal units that have pollution issues and have applied for cost share but did not or cannot secure 75% cost share are limited to a $10,000 out of pocket expense that the regulator can force the operator to spend. Only feedlots that were 300 animal units or less qualified for the Opne Lot Agreement.
Producers who did not sign the Open Lot Agreement, who currently have pollution issues on their feedlot can continue working with their county feedlot officer or regional pollution control agency staff to bring the feedlot into compliance. Typically, this type of work would fall under an Interim Permit that is good for two years or other local agreements between the farmer and regulator to continue working towards compliance. The October 2010 deadline does not have any bearing on those producers.
Producers enrolled in the Open Lot Agreement who do not have the pollution issues corrected by October 2010 will continue to be worked with to get their feedlot into compliance. Enforcement is an option for extreme cases; however, in all cases, the state will continue to work with producers through their local county feedlot officer or regional pollution control agency staff to bring them into compliance. This will be accomplished through Interim Permits or other local agreements of choice. Remember, the spending limit amounts ($3,000 for 300 animal units or less; $10,000 for 300 to 500 animal units) if cost share cannot be obtained.
Government officials continue to work on final determinations for the October 2010 deadline. The MPCA will soon declare the path that the Open lot Feedlot will follow. The MPCA along with the MDA has pledged to get the final information out as soon as possible.