Agricultural Compliance Inspection Program
Since 1972, it has been a state requirement that all agriculture operations have an Agriculture Erosion and Sediment Control Plan. Since 1985, it has been a state requirement that all agricultural operations have a Manure Management Plan. These two plans create a basic management tool that help farming operations minimize the amount of pollutants that run off their operations into local streams and waterways. As part of the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Strategy, Pennsylvania is now initiating a process where Pennsylvania’s farmers are being asked to demonstrate compliance with these laws. The goal and expected outcome of this agricultural inspection program is that every farming operation in Pennsylvania will have the required plans.
A letter will be sent by DEP soon to farms in the Bay region explaining the Agricultural Inspection Program process and procedure. Soon after, DEP and County Conservation Districts will begin inspecting farms to make sure they have these important documents.
Ultimately, the goal of the 2016 PA Agricultural Inspections is to ensure that all Pennsylvanian farmers are complying with State Laws and are doing their part to protect, preserve and improve the quality of the waters of the Commonwealth
What Can I do to Prepare?
What Farmers Can Do to Prepare for an Agricultural Site Inspection Visit
- Operators should make sure their Ag E&S Plans and their Manure Management Plans are up to date and available for review.
- Operators should review their plans and determine if there are any planned Best Management Practices (BMP’s) that have not yet been implemented and start planning to implement those BMP’s without delay.
- Operators who have failed to develop one or both plans should call, without delay, a private consultant, the Lancaster County Conservation District or local NRCS office to start the process of developing their plan(s).
- Operators can wait for an inspector to show up randomly or they can call the Lancaster County Conservation District to arrange for an inspection at the operator’s convenience, either at your farm or at the Conservation District’s office. Note that DEP or the Lancaster County Conservation District may attempt to contact you to arrange for an inspection.
- Operators can provide plans to the Lancaster County Conservation District and avoid an on-site initial inspection.
What Can I Expect?
- The inspector will review an inspection checklist with the farmer (see link http://files.dep.state.pa.us/Water/ChesapeakeBayOffice/Final_Initial_Inspection_Report.pdf ).
- Farmers will be asked a series of basic questions: Operator’s name, Mailing Address, Farm Location Address (street address or name of nearest street for crop fields without street numbers) and City, State and Zip.
- Farmers will also be asked a series of farm-specific questions such as but not limited to:
- Farm Type - Satellite Farm, Rented Fields whether animals are housed On-Site or if the operation includes Crops Only. Multiple boxes will generally be checked.
- Total Acres of Operation.
- Animal Types -List the type of animals on the operation under inspection.
- AEUs (optional) – If possible, identify the Animal Equivalent Units (AEUs) associated with the operation.
- Is manure produced on the operation?
- How is manure stored on the operation?
- How many Acres are Available for Manure application?
Plans submitted to the District will be reviewed for Pennsylvania baseline compliance including adherence to implementation schedule, record keeping requirements, administratively completeness and technical correctness.
Expected Outcomes for Operators from an Agricultural Inspection Program Visit
- The inspector will provide a copy of the Inspection Report to the person interviewed following the inspection. If there are no water quality concerns or violations noted, there will most likely be no further contact with the inspector in the immediate future.
- If violations such as lack of plan(s) are noted during the inspection, the violations will be documented on the inspection report and the operator will be asked to provide a copy of a plan within a 90 day time frame.
- Violations, such as uncontrolled barnyards or severe accelerated erosion, will be noted in the report along with recommended corrective actions to contain the situation until permanent BMPs can be planned and/or implemented.
- Where egregious violations, such as active water pollution are noted, the pollution will be noted in the report along with recommended corrective actions to contain the situation and the operation’s information will be forwarded immediately to DEP for review and possible enforcement action.