Friday, June 08, 2007

Environment a Hot Topic at Pork Expo

Environmental concerns are a hot topic at the 2007 World Pork Expo, with a full agenda of educational environmental presentations for pork producers as well dozens of new technologies on display throughout the fairgrounds.

The seminars opened on Thursday with a presentation by Purdue University professor Brian Richerts on environmental issues facing hog producers. Ten other environmental sessions were held throughout the course of the expo, including a talk by Dick Nicolai of South Dakota State University called "Odor Science and Techniques Producers Can Use to Reduce Odor." Sessions on environmental topics were also held with staff members of Iowa State University, University of Minnesota, as well as other university researchers and pork industry specialists.

On Friday Morning, a conference for agriculture reporters was held with Michael Formica, environmental policy counsel for the National Pork Producers Council.

Formica shared details of some of the federal legislation affecting pork producers and environmental policy. He stressed the need for an increase of funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and the need for pork producers to receive an increase in their share of that funding. He also talked about some of the changes that he is in favor of seeing in the program.

"We hope to streamline the application process," said Formica. "Make it easier for a producer to go to the local Natural Resources Conservation Service office and apply for EQIP." He said that a lot of the paperwork that pork producers have needed to fill out for the program was very redundant. He said that these hurdles have been hindering producers in making improvements in their operations.

Under the 2002 farm bill, pork producers have received less than 3 percent of the total EQIP funding. "We like to say that's less than emus, goats and ostriches," he said.

Formica went on to discuss several of the priorities of the NPPC in the upcoming farm bill, and said that they are happy with the process so far.

"We've been fairly successful with Mr. Peterson's conservation title," he said, referring to U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson's initial drafts of legislation for the new farm bill. "In the House, we've gotten nearly everything we've asked for. We've sort of rallied the agricultural community together and created a coalition and a plan of action that all sections of agriculture can get together on."

Formica went on to discuss the farm bill legislation in the Senate, and talked about the status of an EPA ruling on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.

New technologies on display at the expo

There are many new technologies for pork producers on display at the expo that could help reduce the environmental impact of raising hogs.

One of these new innovations is from Odor Cell Technologies, a company based in Solon and operated by Roger Treloar and his brother Robert, who is a research and development biologist.

Roger Treloar said his technology works to capture the particulates in the air at a swine facility and reduce the foul smells emitted. "We combine the particulates and activate that with water, and then add bacteria to it," he explained. "What we're doing is creating a self-sustaining compost pile that dramatically reduces the odor, the ammonia, the hydrogen sulfide, and it captures the dust particulates."

The company has been in operation just a few years, but has seen some positive results.

"We started with our own swine facility about five years ago, and as we did research on it initially the community around us gave us a lot of positive feedback," he said. "And so then we did a few more years of research and studies on it. My brother is a biologist, so we did scientific analysis, and then over the last three years we've been a commercial operation."

Treloar said that the process can reduce odors to approximately 60 percent of the level of a similar facility without the system. Dust particulates, which can travel significant distances, can be reduced by 98 percent, he said.

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