Environmental Stewardship: Defining Your Ethic in a Policy Statement

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    21-Jan-2015

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An environmental policy statement (EPS) is a proactive way to communicate about a farms environmental stewardship ethic. At first glance, this might seem like a feel good exercise with very little practical value. However, experience has shown that farmers and ranchers are quick to identify ways they can use the policy statement for their operation. The exercise stimulates conversations that many farm operators have not previously initiated with family or employees. In addition to providing a starting point for environmental planning, it is an excellent activity to include in business management programs and curriculum.

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  • 1. Environmental Stewardship:Defining Your Ethic in a Policy Statement
    Thomas Bass, Montana State University
    Jill Heemstra, University of Nebraska - Lincoln
    Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)

2. Environmental Concerns:Social Climate
Public has increased concern for environmental issues
Public also has lack of food, fiber and natural resource literacy
Neighbor Relations & Complicating Factors
urban encroachment
non-ag rural neighbors
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
3. Environmental Concerns
Primarily non-point source (NPS) water pollution
Collective 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 roads
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
4. Existing Regulations
Primarily water quality driven
Clean Water Act (CWA: USEPA, 1972, 77 & 87)
State rules and delegated authority
State enforces on behalf of federal government
Local ordinances
zoning, setbacks, air quality, other
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
5. Animal Feeding Operations
Most detailed rules apply to Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs & CAFOs)
Permitting: federal and/or state level
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
6. Pasture, Crop Land, Managed Forests & Orchards
Little specific regulation exists
Poor management could attract unwanted attention
Clean Water Act can still apply
Opportunity for voluntary conservation!
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
7. Fuel Storage
US EPA new rules in effect Nov. 2010
Spill Prevention, Control & Countermeasure Plan(SPCC)
above-ground fuel storage capacity exceeding 1,320 gallons
42,000 gallons (capacity)of buried containers
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
8. Other Environmental Issues
Air Quality: interrelated issues
chemical compounds
odor & dust
Noxious Weeds
Wildlife/habitat
Others?
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
9. Overwhelmed?
Help is available.
Extension
Young Farmer/Rancher Advisors
USDA-NRCS
Conservation Districts
Fellow Producers
Consultants
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
10. Educate Yourself
Publications from land-grant universities, agencies, associations and NGOs
Valid online resources!
Local, state & national events or conferences
Farmer-to-Farmer, mentors, colleagues, peers
In-person (local connections)
Industry groups, commodity groups
Online; social media
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
11. Overwhelmed?Create Your Own Environmental Plan
Be proactive, make your own decisions for good management
Declare and document the good practices you already do
Plan for future conservation practices
COMMUNICATE about your stewardship!
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
12. 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)
13. 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)
14. BREAK FOR DISCUSSION
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
15. Planning Starts with a FarmEnvironmental Policy Statement
A policy statement briefly describes your operation and includes commitments to:
Environmental stewardship
Continual improvement
Compliance with all pertinent laws and regulations
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
16. Environmental Policy as a Communication Tool
Help guide your business decisions, but also:
Share with buyers/markets
Share with lenders/insurers
Share with neighbors
Use for emergency communication after an accident or natural disaster
Share in first stages of a regulatory inquiry
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
17. Environmental Policy Statements
Description: your farm, business and family goals
Environmental issues: relevant to your location, watershed or community
Compliance: commitment to comply with applicable rules
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
18. Environmental Policy Statements
Stewardship: specific resource and environmental goals important to your operation
Continuous Improvement: commitment to evaluate yourself and improve continuously as your operation grows
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
19. Note: tips for statements
Statement should not be generic
DO NOT use finite wording: use reduce or limit instead of eliminate
DO NOT use time references: will continually improve or stewardship instead of will accomplish in 5 years
Examples in packet are for guidance
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
20. BREAK FOR EXERCISE(examples & worksheets)
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
21. Communicating Ag Advocacy
If you have a web presence, use your policy statement online
Post on your farm website
Advocate Ag in your social networking
Write about your stewardship in blogs
Share your stewardship on emerging social/online networking
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
22. Becoming a Leader
Agriculture 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)
23. Conclusion and Questions
Thank you for your time and your commitment to environmental stewardship!
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)
24. Contact Information
Jill Heemstra:
jheemstra@unl.edu
Tommy Bass:
tmbass@montana.edu
Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA)