Environmental Stewardship: Defining Your Ethic in a Policy Statement Thomas Bass, Montana State University Jill Heemstra, University of Nebraska - Lincoln.

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Environmental Stewardship:Defining Your Ethic in a Policy StatementThomas Bass, Montana State UniversityJill Heemstra, University of Nebraska - LincolnEnvironmental Concerns:Social ClimatePublic has increased concern for environmental issuesPublic also has lack of food, fiber and natural resource literacyNeighbor Relations & Complicating Factorsurban encroachmentnon-ag rural neighborsBuilding Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)Environmental ConcernsPrimarily non-point source (NPS) water pollutionCollective run-off from an area (picture depicts sediment from a large construction site) Ag NPS could be from animal confinement & manure storage; chemical/fuel storage; fields; farm roadsBuilding Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)Existing RegulationsPrimarily water quality drivenClean Water Act (CWA: USEPA, 1972, 77 & 87)State rules and delegated authorityState enforces on behalf of federal governmentLocal ordinanceszoning, setbacks, air quality, otherBuilding Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)Animal Feeding OperationsMost detailed rules apply to Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs & CAFOs)Permitting: federal and/or state levelBuilding Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)Pasture, Crop Land, Managed Forests & OrchardsLittle specific regulation existsPoor management could attract unwanted attentionClean Water Act can still applyOpportunity for voluntary conservation!Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)Fuel StorageUS EPA new rules in effect Nov. 2010Spill Prevention, Control & Countermeasure Plan (SPCC)above-ground fuel storage capacity exceeding 1,320 gallons42,000 gallons (capacity) of buried containersBuilding Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)Other Environmental IssuesAir Quality: interrelated issueschemical compoundsodor & dust Noxious WeedsWildlife/habitatOthers?Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)Overwhelmed? Help is available.ExtensionYoung Farmer/Rancher AdvisorsUSDA-NRCSConservation DistrictsFellow ProducersConsultantsBuilding Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)Educate YourselfPublications from land-grant universities, agencies, associations and NGOsValid online resources!Local, state & national events or conferencesFarmer-to-Farmer, mentors, colleagues, peersIn-person (local connections)Industry groups, commodity groupsOnline; social mediaOverwhelmed?Create Your Own Environmental PlanBe proactive, make your own decisions for good managementDeclare and document the good practices you already doPlan for future conservation practicesCOMMUNICATE about your stewardship!Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)What is important to you and your community?Are there environmental issues in your community, state or region for which farms or ranches are generally viewed in a negative way? Are there environmental issues in your community, state or region for which farms and ranches are generally viewed in a positive way?Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)What is important to you and your community?List examples of resources that need protection and how farms may be connected to them? What issues do you see as being especially important 5 years from now? Further into the future?Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)BREAK FOR DISCUSSIONBuilding Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)Planning Starts with a FarmEnvironmental Policy StatementA policy statement briefly describes your operation and includes commitments to:Environmental stewardshipContinual improvementCompliance with all pertinent laws and regulationsBuilding Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)Environmental Policy as a Communication ToolHelp guide your business decisions, but also:Share with buyers/marketsShare with lenders/insurersShare with neighborsUse for emergency communication after an accident or natural disasterShare in first stages of a regulatory inquiryBuilding Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)Environmental Policy StatementsDescription: your farm, business and family goalsEnvironmental issues: relevant to your location, watershed or communityCompliance: commitment to comply with applicable rulesBuilding Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)Environmental Policy StatementsStewardship: specific resource and environmental goals important to your operation Continuous Improvement: commitment to evaluate yourself and improve continuously as your operation growsBuilding Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)Note: tips for statementsStatement should not be genericDO NOT use finite wording: use reduce or limit instead of eliminateDO NOT use time references: will continually improve or stewardship instead of will accomplish in 5 yearsExamples in packet are for guidance Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)BREAK FOR EXERCISE(examples & worksheets)Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)Communicating Ag AdvocacyIf you have a web presence, use your policy statement onlinePost on your farm websiteAdvocate Ag in your social networkingWrite about your stewardship in blogsShare your stewardship on emerging social/online networkingBecoming a LeaderAgriculture can be profitable;environmental issues should not scare anyone from the business!You can develop and protect natural resources while providing food, fiber and other services to the world.You must become your own advocate!Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)Conclusion and QuestionsThank you for your time and your commitment to environmental stewardship! Contact InformationJill Heemstra: jheemstra@unl.edu Tommy Bass: tmbass@montana.edu On its surface, an environmental policy statement appears to be a feel good activityone with very little practical value. In reality, the development of an environmental policy statement has proven to be a very worthwhile activity for farm and ranch families. Instructional notes will be in italics throughout this presentation. These italicized portions are for reference only and are not meant to be part of the script . In a classroom setting, the environmental policy statement exercise can guide the application of very broad general knowledge (environmental stewardship in agriculture) to a very specific situation (a real or case study farm/ranch). This power point contains a set of slides that can be used as-is or modified by an educator and used to instruct the development of a policy statement for a farm or ranch. The intended audience for this powerpoint is either beginning farmers or ranchers or high school/jr. college ag students, but it will also be useful to other groups as well. If this will be used with farmers/ranchers, the worksheet Taking Stock: Environmental Issues Important to My Farm/Ranch should be sent ahead of time and filled out prior to the program.Throughout the notes section of this powerpoint, you will see farm/ranch or farmer/rancher. Since it is awkward to say farm or ranch throughout a presentation, you are encouraged to select one term or the other as best fits your audience and simply ignore the references to the other term.*Agriculture, especially animal agriculture is being watched more closely by a general public concerned about environmental impacts and the changing landscape of agriculture (trend toward fewer, larger farms). We are also experiencing a time when people, who have become very disconnected from their food sources, are showing a greater interest in where food and fiber come from. These consumers have access to a great deal of information but often do not have the background knowledge needed to make judgments about the credibility of those information sources. As urban and suburban areas expand into rural areas, they come face to face with agricultural operations. The opposite trend is also occurring as agricultural production is moving into urban areas. This is especially noticeable in areas where groups are turning vacant lots into community gardens or individuals are keeping chickens or other animals in back yards. Animal producers especially need to be sensitive to the impact of their activities on neighbors as manure odors, flies, and animal noise can all be the source of neighbor complaints. Regardless of who was there first , farmers/ranchers who consider their neighbors when making management decisions and take time to communicate with those around them will be more likely to receive support and tolerance for occasional nuisances. *Most agricultural operations are considered non-point sources, which are area-wide sources of pollution. A point source can be thought of more as a smoke stack or like a pipe from which discharges flow. One exception to this is for animal operations that are classified as a CAFO or concentrated animal feeding operation. (Source: http://cfpub1.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=7 accessed Feb. 8, 2011). An operation that meets the regulatory definition of CAFO, is considered a point source and generally is required to get a permit. These regulations are covered more in-depth in a separate module.Some of the main water quality issues associated with agriculture are sediments and nutrients (especially nitrogen and phosphorus), chemicals or fuel. There has been increasing concern over the potential for pathogens (microbes that can cause diseases) or veterinary pharmaceuticals (antibiotics, hormones, or other animal health products) to reach water supplies. On farms or ranches, these can come from open lots or barnyards, pastures, chemical or fuel storage structures, fields, farm roads, feed or silage storage, manure spreading sites and others.*Agriculture has experienced an increasing level of regulation. Most of these regulations are driven by real and potential impacts on water quality. At the federal level, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, 33 U.S.C. 1251-1387, was adopted in 1948. A significant amendment of that law in 1972 (with additional amendments in 1977 and 1987) became commonly known as the Clean Water Act ("CWA). The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has authority to enforce the CWA. In most cases, EPA has delegated that authority to state or tribal governments to enforce within their jurisdiction. State or tribal programs can include more stringent requirements than the federal program, but cannot go the other way and change requirements to be less stringent. Who is the delegated authority in your state? (http://www.envcap.org/statetools/srt/srt.html )Two of the more common entities are Department of Environmental Quality or Department of Natural Resources. In addition to federal/state programs, agricultural operations may be subject to local ordinances like zoning regulations. Zoning regulations often dictate where a facility can be sitedhow far from the property line, how far from neighbors and other public facilities. This also works in reverse, as it may dictate distances that new homes or businesses need to be set back from an existing agricultural operation. *Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are specific designations and generally apply to confinement operations or confinement areas and not animals on pasture. Depending on size and/or connection to water resources, the operation may need a permit. The permits are part of a federal program, but are usually issued through the state authority. Depending on the program, a permit generally requires that an operation allow inspections, conduct regular inspections and maintenance of structures and equipment, keep records, and report manure spills.*For many other sectors of agriculture, crop and pastures, forest and orchards, there are few specific regulations especially at the federal level. It is important to remember that relatively few instances of poor management or a little negative publicity tends to create support and momentum for the development of regulations.Most normal farming activities are exempted from the Clean Water Act, but the provisions can still apply. Some examples are: drainage of wetlands or building dams without proper permissions. Voluntary conservation efforts are proactive efforts on the part of a landowner to protect natural resources. These can be paid our of their own pocket or be funded wholly or partially through one of many public and private programs out there. These will vary widely by location, but there are often federal programs through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), state programs through your state regulatory authority or State Department of Agriculture. At the local level there are soil and water conservation districts, wildlife organizations, watershed planning groups, and others. For landowners willing to do some research and do paperwork, there are many opportunities to fund conservation efforts.*Under the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures Plan (SPCC), farms or ranches that have the capacity to store more than 1320 gallons (above ground) of fuel, oil or certain pesticides that are considered oil products need to follow rules aimed at preventing spills. Buried storage in excess of 42,000 gallons will trigger the same requirement. For more information or handouts, see http://www.epa.gov/osweroe1/content/spcc/ *While water quality tends to be where the rules and regulations have been in the past, current and future efforts are focusing more on air quality. In some states, there are already air regulations on the books that affect agriculture. In most cases, the state regulations focus on specific chemical compounds such as hydrogen sulfide. In other cases, particulate matter (also known as dust) has been the focus of regulations. The concept of odor, while the most common complaint is difficult to regulate because odors are an extremely complex interaction between 400 or more compounds found in livestock or poultry manure. Odor rules tend to be indirectly found in the form of zoning regulations which require certain distances between facilities or may require a farm to develop a plan to minimize odors.Noxious weeds are another issue that affects most farms and ranches. Noxious weed rules are generally set by the state, but are enforced by counties. Counties can add more weeds to the list, but cannot remove weeds from the state list.Wildlife habitat and the Endangered Species Act have affected many farms and ranches, especially in the western part of the United States. The identification of endangered species used to be an unpleasant prospect for ag operators. However, wildlife managers are more widely recognizing that proactive management and practices are often the reason that habitat is improving and supporting endangered species. The programs are becoming less prescriptive and more cooperative with a greater emphasis on cost share and funding support to further encourage the proactive practices that allowed the endangered species to thrive in a location in the first place.Can you think of other issues that have or will become important to agriculture? Some ideas include greenhouse gases (which could be discussed as part of air quality), irrigation efficiency or overall water usage in agriculture, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics and other veterinary pharmaceuticals, energy use, production efficiency (amount of inputs needed per unit of product produced) and pathogens. *{Animated slideimage will not block text when in slide show mode}. This is only a partial listing of environmental issues and rules important to agricultural operations. It is easy to feel overwhelmed with the requirements that go with agricultural production. Fortunately, there is a lot of support and help available.*There are a wide variety of resources for learning more about topics. With the easy availability of information, it is critical that you find credible sources of information, especially those based on research information or real-world experience. Local, state and national events and personal or professional contacts can be especially great ways to get ideas on handling tough situations or finding creative ways to improve something on your farm or ranch.*Whether you are an ag student, a farmer, or an ag professional, you can become an advocate for agriculture. It starts with making positive environmental decisions, keeping records or documentation of those positive choices, and telling others about what you have done and plan to do in the future. Even if you are not the manager or owner of a farm operation, your role as a crop consultant, veterinarian, lender, farm worker, feed salesperson, etc. can make a difference, environmentally speaking. Ag professionals can and should support farm owners and managers in improving environmental management decisions. It is everyones responsibility to communicate with those inside and outside of agriculture to highlight positive stewardship practices, and correct negative ones. *Now that we have completed an overview about some of the environmental issues facing agriculture, we are going to focus on those that are specific to our region. We will break into small groups to discuss the questions on this slide and the next. How are each of these issues negative or positive? We need to consider impacts to several resources: soil, water, air, plants, animals and people. When thinking about people, you need to consider those who live and work on the farm or ranch as well as those off the farm or ranch.*Some examples might be a state or national park, stream or lake, wildlife, recreational or other public use area, groundwater aquifer, air or human resources (people who live near or work on farms). Try to identify resources that are significant at local, state, national and global scales. How do farms potentially impact each of thoe resources you identified? Which issues are getting a lot of attention now? Which ones are not getting much attention, but probably will become more important in the future?*Go through each question and allow 2-3 minutes for volunteers or the designated spokesperson of each small group to report on what their group discussed. These could be summarized (white/chalk board, large paper hung on wall, computer screen/project, etc.) and displayed (optional).For farmer/rancher audiences, they should have completed the worksheet Taking Stock: Environmental Issues Important to My Farm or Ranch before coming to the program. If this was not done, hand out that worksheet and ask them to complete it. {Modify the slides to include all of the questions on the worksheet.} Encourage the audience to interact with each other or divide them into small groups. Give verbal announcements after a set amount of time and move onto the next question. Even though discussions occur in groups, each person or farm/ranch operation (represented by more than one person) should fill out a worksheet. When time is complete, go through each question and ask 1 or 2 people to share their response with the entire group. If the worksheet was completed prior to the program, use this time to share responses and ideas in large or small groups.*Proactive communication and planning starts with a statement about environmental priorities and commitments. This is known as an environmental policy statement or EPS. The issues that you identified in the previous discussion will form the basis for a policy statement for a farm or ranch typical to this area. For farmer/rancher audiences, they should develop an EPS for their operation. For classroom situations, students can be given one or more (teacher-developed) example or case-study farms/ranches and develop an EPS for their assigned example. Students can complete that as an individual assignment or as part of a small group. (Optional) Students can develop 1 or more example farms/ranches based on information they have researched regarding typical agricultural production in their area. An EPS must include commitments to environmental stewardship, continual improvement, and regulatory compliance. Despite these similarities, every EPS is very individualized. Your environmental policy statement will form the framework for all business decisions. In the future, every decision you make will be measured by asking What does our environmental policy statement say we will do?*In addition to guiding business management decisions, your EPS is also a communication tool. It conveys environmental priorities to customers, lenders or insurers. It can also be used in newsletters or mailings to neighbors. If a farm or ranch is involved in a manure spill or large-scale animal deaths (due to disease, floods, or power outage), the EPS can be part of the statement issued to the media. If there is a complaint or other reason that regulators visit, the EPS can be given to the inspectors.Remember, no communication tool is effective unless your actions reinforce the message! *We are going to cover the five basic parts of an environmental policy statement. The EPS should provide a brief description of the farm or ranch and provide some context for the statement. This context can be about the general geographic location, length of time the operation has been in the family, and express the desire to be a profitable and contributing member of the community in which the farm/ranch is located.An EPS should also recognize the environmental issues that shape the farm/ranch priorities. These tend to be topics that are important at the local level, although state and national discussions may also play a role in shaping these issues. The the four questions discussed on slides 12 and 13 should form the basis for writing this part of the student policy statements. For farmers/ranchers, this should be based on their completed Worksheet Taking Stock: Environmental Issues Important to My Farm or Ranch .The next piece of the EPS should include a commitment to regulatory compliance. This is pretty straightforward but as you will see in the examples handout, it does have some room for creativity. As part of this, a farm/ranch should also include a commitment to any voluntary programs or certifications in which they participate. Some examples of this might be organic certification, a program that requires animals not receive growth-promoting implants or antibiotics, etc.*The next piece of the environmental policy statement is to write one or more stewardship commitments. Specifically, you should be able to answer the question What makes me a good environmental steward? or What am I going to do to protect natural resources?. We will hand out some examples shortly that show some ways to communicate this idea.Lastly, no EPS is complete without a commitment to continual improvement. Like the commitment to regulatory compliance, this is fairly straightforward, but it does offer some opportunity to personalize it for your farm/ranch.*In a moment, we will begin writing an environmental policy statement. When you do that, here are some tips to keep in mind.Your EPS should be personalized for your farm/ranch. Even though there are required elements in the EPS, there is still plenty of room to make sure that it doesnt sound just like everyone elses policy. Another thing to keep in mind is that using absolute or finite wording will make it very difficult or impossible to stand by your commitments. Reduce or limit are better choices than eliminate. You should also be cautious when saying always or never as these can make your policy statement difficult to attain.Time references are important parts of action plans and objectives, but they should not be part of your policy statement. While you are likely to revise or improve your policy statement over time, the EPS should be a long-term commitment and should apply to your operation for many years. You can view some of the examples in the handout for ideas.*Hand out the two sets of examples (example policy statements and example stewardship commitments). Also handout the template policy statement worksheet for each person to write their own environmental policy statement. Highlight some of the examples with the group and allow 10 minutes for writing the first draft of their EPS. For ag students, the EPS can be further revised as a homework assignment and handed in the next day. A suggested grading scale is found in the instructional guide.For farmer/rancher audiences, the EPS can/should be further revised when they return home and integrated into their business management. You may wish to make copies of the EPSs and use them as examples for future programs.*The next step is to USE your environmental policy statement. It is common for farms or businesses to post their EPS somewhere prominenton the wall, on table cards, on business cards, or other noticeable place. It can also be found on handouts, brochures, or newsletters. One place that is increasingly important to share an EPS is online. It can be posted to the farm website or social network sites. Sharing information about how you manage your farm or ranch helps others recognize the important role agriculture can (and does) play in protecting natural resources. Even some of your family or friends may not fully understand some of the issues or decisions faced by farmers and ranchers.Ag students may not be the primary owner or manager of a farm or agribusiness. It may be beneficial to have them focus on how they can demonstrate leadership skills to family members or employers by developing an EPS . As they involve parents or bosses in the development of the EPS, could it positively affect environmental stewardship for the business?*Agriculture and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact, they are very compatible and no one should avoid a career in agriculture because they are uncertain about environmental issues or regulations.Even with the increasing level of regulatory oversight and public scrutiny, a proactive mindset will serve those who choose to produce food, fiber and fuel. By understanding the connection a farm, ranch or business has with natural resources and taking steps to protect those resources, you will be in a much better position than those who choose to wait or ignore new issues as they emerge.Lastly, no one else will tell your story. If you want others to recognize your work in protecting natural resources, you need to be the first one to tell them.**Ag teachersyou can omit this slide.Extension educators/agentsReplace Jill and Tommys contact information with your own.*


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