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Farmers Challenge Ban on Sludge

April 20, 1999

AMELIA, Va. (AP) _ A group of farmers want a court to overturn the Amelia County Board of Supervisors’ ban on the use of treated human waste as fertilizer.

The 11 farmers claim in a lawsuit that the ban illegally pre-empts state law.

``We feel like our rights had been violated because the federal government, the state Health Department and everybody approves, and then the county says no,″ plaintiff Reuben L. Blanton said this week.

The Amelia supervisors voted on March 17 to ban the use of so-called biosolids, treated human waste that has been used for a quarter of a century on farmland and deemed safe by federal and state environmental and health agencies.

The sludge is applied on agricultural lands in about 30 Virginia counties, mostly on pastures and corn crops used for animal feed. It also is used on soybeans and small grains that are processed for human consumption with drying and heating techniques that kill any micro-organisms.

Three other Virginia counties have banned biosolids, but officials at the Virginia Association of Counties said they knew of no other lawsuits challenging the bans.

The Amelia farmers argue in their lawsuit, filed last week in Circuit Court, that the ban goes against state law, which allows the use of biosolids if a farmer has a state Health Department permit.

Amelia Supervisor Betty Binford, who introduced the ban on the grounds biosolids could be unsafe to people, declined to comment on the farmers’ claims.

Amelia farmers can save thousands of dollars in chemical fertilizer costs by using biosolids, which are provided free of charge.


DENVER (AP) _ If you think the Colorado air is rare, rarer still are the state’s air quality regulations for agriculture, until now. Amendment 14, passed by voters Nov. 3, has dramatically changed that for housed commercial swine feeding operations in Colorado.

The new regulations went into effect in March, imposing stiff new air and water standards upon large swine feeders.

The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission and Water Quality Control Commission have issued the Amendment 14 implementing regulations, and covered swine feeders have until July 1 to gain the operating permit now required.

Colorado has, in the past, had a permit system for confined animal feeding operations, but the Department of Health and Environment has issued no current permits. There has never been a fine for air or water pollution by these operators, and in the past a state inspector only got involved when a complaint came in to the health department.

According to Doug Lempke, administrator of the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission, the new swine regulations place Colorado ``in the middle of the pack,″ as far as swine regulations are concerned, compared with other states. Missouri regulators drove many large hog producers out of the state, and Minnesota has more stringent regulations, Lempke said.

Operations capable of housing 800,000 pounds of swine or more are covered by the new regulations. According to Paul Frohardt, administrator of the Water Quality Control Commission, that number equates to about 2,000 breeder sows or 3,020 feeder swine.

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