Update: In-person meetings canceled; see press release for updates.

Feedlot permit changes would benefit water quality in Minnesota

Contact: Forrest Peterson, 320-979-1776

Under proposed changes to operating permits for large livestock farms in Minnesota, waters will be more protected from nitrogen leaching and runoff from land application of manure, while feedlot owners will benefit from improved forms and online services.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is revising the general operating permit for about 1,200 large feedlots covering Feb. 1, 2021 through Jan. 31, 2026. A general permit covers facilities whose operations are similar.

The agency is holding public information meetings so interested individuals can learn about the proposed permit and ask questions:

  • Tuesday, March 17 in Rochester, MPCA offices, 18 Wood Lake Drive SE, 10 a.m.-noon
  • Thursday, March 19 in Mankato, Blue Earth County Public Library, 100 E Main St., 10:30 a.m.-noon
  • Tuesday, March 31 in Marshall, Marshall-Lyon County library, 201 C St., Marshall, 10 a.m.-noon
  • Thursday, April 2 in Brainerd area, MPCA offices, 7678 College Rd., Ste. 105, Baxter, 10 a.m.-noon (Also available by webcast from all MPCA regional offices.)

The feedlot general permit combines Minnesota rules and statutes with federal regulations of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. It’s designed to protect water quality, primarily from the storage and land application of manure.

Though substantially similar to the current general permit, the proposed permit includes some new or modified requirements, including:

To limit the potential for nitrate leaching and runoff

  • A cover crop for any manure application during the months of June, July, August, and September (previously only June, July, and August).
  • Best management practices for any manure application during the month of October, such as cover crops, split applications of nitrogen, nitrification inhibitors, or applying manure when soil temperatures are 50 degrees or less.
  • No land application of solid manure during February and March (in addition to the current prohibition on applying liquid manure during the winter)

Record-keeping and annual reporting

The proposed permit would require permittees to use MPCA-approved forms for annual reporting and record-keeping. The MPCA will make the forms available when the proposed permit goes on public notice.

Permit format, coverage, and application process

The MPCA is developing an online permit application that should be available in fall 2020. The agency has also removed redundant and unnecessary text from the proposed permit. Each facility will receive a customized notice of coverage containing only the permit sections that apply to the feedlot.

As the permit-development process continues, learn more and find out about public-participation opportunities on the MPCA web site. The formal 30-day public comment period will be announced in late spring or early summer.