Over the past two decades or more, the MPCA feedlot program has worked with livestock producers to comply with environmental regulations in an economically sound manner. This helps ensure that livestock manure is properly used for crop fertilizer and avoids polluting lakes, streams, and groundwater.
Minnesota is a leader among states with a strong livestock industry that operates in an environmentally responsible manner (Minnesota ranks high nationally for livestock production: #1 in turkeys, #2 in hogs, #6 in beef, #7 in dairy). A large majority of Minnesota's livestock are found at the nearly 1,300 large feedlots that require a state or federal operating permit.
Every five years, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general operating permit is updated. A general permit covers facilities whose operations are similar, and is an efficient way for the MPCA to issue permit coverage, compared to issuing individual permits. About 1,200 large feedlots in Minnesota operate under the current general feedlot permit, which expires next year. The proposed general permit covering 2021 to 2026 is now open for public review and comment through Thursday, July 23, 2020.
Operating permits are strongly correlated with successful, well-managed livestock operations. NPDES permits make sure that a state's mandatory standards for clean water and the federal minimums are being met.
The proposed permit includes new measures to limit the leaching of nitrates from manure spread on farm fields. It extends the required cover crop period for manure application to October. Cover crops are required to mitigate the risk of nutrient pollution to groundwater and surface waters from manure. The current permit requires cover crops June through August.
The draft permit also restricts manure applications in September and October. Producers must wait until the soil is colder than 50 degrees F to apply manure in October, or use other practices such as cover crops, split applications of nitrogen, or nitrification inhibitors.
The draft permit includes streamlined record-keeping requirements, revised permit format, and the online application process will save feedlot owners time.
The new permit will become effective Feb. 1, 2021. The draft permit is posted on the MPCA’s public notices webpage, and linked from the feedlot program permit webpage. The MPCA is accepting written comments on the draft permit until 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 23, 2020.
Send written comments to or request information from George Schwint (320-894-5866), Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 12 Civic Center Plaza, Ste. 2165, Mankato, MN, 56001. Comments must state your interest in the permit, the action you wish the MPCA to take including specific references, and specific reasons supporting your position.
A recording of one of the virtual information meetings held by the MPCA on the proposed permit is available on the MPCA feedlot permit webpage. Learn more about public-participation opportunities on the MPCA website.