DEP issues new CAFO general permit

The state Department of Environmental Protection has released a new general permit, PAG-12, for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit coverage to persons operating concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in Pennsylvania.

The previous permit was set to expire March 31.

“This updated (permit) will streamline and clear up some requirements for farmers, while also improving water quality by strengthening protections for manure storage and leak detection,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

Notable changes to the permit include:

• Electronic submission of annual reports, when required by DEP

• Annual inspections of earthen storage facilities and sampling of leak detection systems

• Changing the reporting period from “calendar year” to “crop year” (Oct. 1 to Sept. 30)

• Updated forms to comply with EPA requirements and elimination of duplicative and conflicting requirements

The new permit includes a $500 annual notice of intent fee starting no earlier than Jan. 1, 2020, but has eliminated the proposed initial notice of intent fee of $500 for new CAFOs. The annual fees would be paid to the Clean Water Fund for the purpose of supporting DEP’s pollution control efforts.

For more information, visit

USDA reopens enrollment for improved dairy safety net tool

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is encouraging dairy producers to consider enrolling in the new and improved Margin Protection Program for Dairy, which will provide better protections for dairy producers from shifting milk and feed prices.

With changes authorized under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) has set the enrollment period to run from April 9 to June 1.

“We recognize the financial hardships many of our nation’s dairy producers are experiencing right now. Folks are losing their contracts and they are getting anxious about getting their bills paid while they watch their milk check come in lower and lower each month. The Bipartisan Budget Act provided some much-needed incentives for dairy producers to make cost-effective decisions to strengthen their farms, mitigate risk, and conserve their natural resources,” Perdue said. “This includes our support of America’s dairy farms. We encourage dairy producers to review the provisions of the updated program, which Congress shaped with their feedback. Those changes are now in effect, and I’d ask any producers who are interested to contact their local USDA service centers.”

The program protects dairy producers by paying them when the difference between the national all-milk price and the national average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount elected by the producer.

Changes include:

• Calculations of the margin period is monthly rather than bi-monthly.

• Covered production is increased to 5 million pounds on the Tier 1 premium schedule, and premium rates for Tier 1 are substantially lowered.

• An exemption from paying an administrative fee for limited resource, beginning, veteran, and disadvantaged producers. Dairy operators enrolled in the previous 2018 enrollment period that qualify for this exemption under the new provisions may request a refund.

Dairy operations must make a new coverage election for 2018, even if they enrolled during the previous 2018 signup period.

Coverage elections made for 2018 will be retroactive to Jan. 1.

All dairy operations desiring coverage must sign up during the enrollment period and submit an appropriate form and dairy operations may still “opt out” by not submitting a form. All outstanding balances for 2017 and prior years must be paid in full before 2018 coverage is approved.

For more information, see or contact a local USDA service center.