Sunday, December 14, 2008

News Affecting Valley Barnyards

Disaster Areas - Governor Tim Kaine announced that the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture has designated Albemarle, Buckingham, Caroline, Fluvanna, Franklin, Goochland, Greene, Hanover, Henry, Isle of Wight, Lunenburg, Powhatan and Rockbridge counties primary natural disaster areas due to reductions in farm production caused by drought and excessive heat that occurred this year. Farmers will be eligible for low-interest loans and any supplemental relief that might be provided by Congress in the future. Farmers in adjacent counties (in the Valley: Alleghany, Augusta, Bath, Botetourt, Page, Roanoke Rockingham) have received contiguous disaster status and also may be eligible for federal aid.
Waste Not - Poultry waste is a huge concern for the Chesapeake Bay. With 2007 sales of turkeys, chickens, eggs totaling $937 million, poultry is Virginia's #1 agricultural industry. Much of it is located in the central Shenandoah Valley. Raising poultry creates about 400,000 tons of waste annually. If not properly handled, nutrients from the waste get into the surface water, steams, and rivers eventually finding their way into the Bay. There, those nutrients cause algae booms that deplete oxygen in the water causing dead zones. Don't blame the birds for all this foul mess - nutrients come from other livestock, humans, and overuse of fertilizers on farms and front yards! Another major factor is the huge population growth along the Chesapeake's shores and tributaries in eastern Virginia, the D.C. area, and Maryland.
Valley farmers are already taking dramatic and expensive steps to better manage manure and fertilizers. Governments are enacting new policies such as limiting development along shorelines and tributaries so the natural processes can help break down the nutrients before they get into the Bay. Perdue Farms has a plant that burns the litter to generate electricity.
Learn more about the Chesapeake Bay.
Gas Tax? - The EPA has proposed a cow and pig gas tax? Yep, that right! Cows and pigs eat their feed which ferments during the digestive process creating methane and nitrous oxide which is released to the atmosphere in farts and burps. Under part of the Clean Air Act, the EPA is studying these emissions to determine if they are creating greenhouse gases that are hazardous to human health.
Under the proposed rules, a farm with more than 25 dairy cows or 50 beef cattle produces 100 tons of carbon equivalent each year and would need a permit and pay the gas tax - about $175 for each dairy cow. A Shenandoah Valley dairy farm milking 125 head would have tax of $21,875.
The EPA study will continue through 2009. For now, you can get more info at which has a Fart Chart where you can a state-by-state whiff of this breaking issue.
What's next.... a limit on how many beans I can put in my chili?

No comments: