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Friday, July 15, 2011 - 11:33am

Farm Waste Program Under Scrutiny

How the state regulates large-scale farm waste is under scrutiny. A federal review says 70 percent of the farms don’t have proper oversight.

The U.S. Inspector General’s office report says there’s a significant risk that Georgia’s supervision of farm animal waste disposal doesn’t protect water quality.

It concluded the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s oversight was deficient for 34 of 48 farms, nine violated the Clean Water Act and six didn’t have a permit.

"What is happening with all the waste in Georgia?" Leah Garces is with Compassion in World Farming. "There’s 22 times more chicken than people, there’s a quarter million hogs. Factory farm animals are producing on a daily basis as much manure as 85 million people."

But the EPD questions the report’s findings and wants to see data that support the allegations. The EPD’s Dominic Weatherhill says only four farms don’t have federal permits. He says that’s likely because the state is updating its rules to match federal changes.

"The farms in the meantime that aren’t permitted are going to continue to be evaluated and inspected to make sure they’re not negatively impacting the environment," says Weatherhill, "so there’s not going to be absence oversight just because there’s not a permit in place."

Weatherhill says of the four without federal permits, two have state permits.

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