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How is your ranch’s ‘BMP’?


Stay abreast — or ahead — of environmental rules I by jamie cohen wallace / courtesy elcr.org


n recent years, Best Management Practices (BMPs) have essentially become standard for horse farms/facilities across


the country. Meant to protect the ground and surface waters, BMPs are excellent management practices that should be uti- lized by every horse farm and facility to stay in compliance, regardless of legislation. In fact, even horse trail systems are now


starting to be legislated, and/or stopped. Certainly, small amounts of manure on trails and farms won’t have negative impacts, but in significant, concentrated amounts, excess nutrients have the poten- tial to be harmful to our environment and water. Using BMPs in all management deci- sions, both on and off the trails, helps to protect against these excess nutrients from entering into our ground and surface waters as well as keep you ahead of legislation. These nutrient rulings vary substantially


for horse facilities, depending on size (rang- ing from an Olympic venue to a backyard farm), location, horse population, and area of the country. The size of an operation is a great determining factor in the amount of legislation. In fact, horse show venues and racetracks are so large that they fall into their own legislated category. Those found


not to be in com- pliance can result in very costly fines levied to them, and include excessive paperwork and con- struction require- ments. How can you be


sure that the show venue, racetrack, etc. that you own, manage, or simply atend, is meeting regulations and in compliance with these more stringent, or different regulations? And what about your own farm? Many/most horse show venues and


racetracks are considered to be a CAFO, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. A CAFO, regardless of animal species, has such a large, concentrated population of animals that their abilities to potentially pollute is much greater than that of a family farm, having only one or a few animals. Smaller animal operations are known as


AFOs, Animal Feeding Operations, as they lack “concentrated” animal populations. Your farm or boarding facility is an AFO.


County legislation normally determines where legislation lies with family farms and boarding facilities. For CAFOs, regulations are set on a federal level and are also done for many species (catle, swine, horses etc). As defined by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a “CAFO is another EPA term for a large concen- trated AFO. A CAFO is an AFO with more than 1,000 animal units (an animal unit is defined as an animal equivalent of 1,000 pounds live weight and equates to 1,000 head of beef catle, 700 dairy cows, 2500 swine weighing more than 55 lbs, 125 thou- sand broiler chickens, or 82 thousand laying


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