FARMERS SPEAK OUT IN SUPPORT OF ANIMAL AGRICULTURE
MONTGOMERY Farmers gathered at the Tom Bevill Lyceum on the campus of Northeast State Community College Saturday afternoon to discuss the future of animal agriculture in Alabama. New environmental regulations regarding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) were the key topic discussed at the farmers' forum.
"These new regulations meet or exceed all standards mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Alabama and allow for zero discharge into water sources," said Doug Rigney, executive director of the Alabama Farmers Federation. "We believe that once the facts are presented, people will see that the environment is being protected. Agriculture is our state's largest industry and animal agriculture plays a big role in its overall economic picture. These regulations will insure that Alabama's growing animal agriculture industry is allowed to continue to prosper in an environmentally safe manner."
Richard Hulcher, chief of permits and compliance for the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, and Ronnie Murphy, state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, addressed the technical aspects of the new regulations which went into effect April 1. Ron Sparks, assistant commissioner of Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, also spoke about the importance of agriculture and a clean environment.
Marshall County farmer Dan Smalley and Jackson County farmer Mack Hughes both spoke at the meeting about how the new regulations will effect agriculture. Smalley said that while the new regulations require farmers to maintain more extensive records and invest in new management practices, he and others are willing to implement the CAFO requirements to protect the environment.
Hughes said farmers want to protect the environment. ""We depend on the land, air and water to make our living,"" he said. ""Farmers, more than anyone, are committed to making sure that future generations can enjoy our natural resources.""