Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Livestock Waste Management

Nebraska's Livestock Waste Management Act is currently the focus of a bill in our legislature. Read about it here. Personally, I question the wisdom of allowing livestock facilities to structure their businesses with multiple entities to avoid non-compliance. And when combined with a 5-strikes-and-you-are-out rule, it would appear Nebraska's law is fairly toothless. But further study may reveal something that I've missed.

In any event, I don't think it wise to base this decision on a need to aid the young farmer (as the post reports). Rules that seek to avoid environmental harms do impose costs on producers (while at the same time relieving the public of costs that it is bears in the form of environmental damage). If that, in itself, is a barrier to young farmers, then the argument is really an argument for non-regulation. I'd thought we had outgrown that. But perhaps I was wrong. The young farmer and the family farm live on in some settings as justifications for all types of policy. But why should it matter that a large livestock facility is owned by a family or a youngster? As Susan has suggested, it should be very difficult for industrialized agriculture (and, I think, all agriculture) to avoid industry-like regulation that responds to the dangers it poses.


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