- Associated Press - Saturday, October 25, 2014

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) - The Indiana state chemist’s office has been busy investigating complaints about piles of chicken and turkey manure since the adoption of a new manure-staging rule took full effect in 2013.

The office has responded to at least 15 complaints in the past year, some of which resulted in fines or warnings in the case of first offenders.

To Barbara Sha Cox of Indiana CAFO Watch, the piles of manure, which are spread on farm fields as fertilizer, are no laughing matter.

“Any time there is not a berm of dirt around the manure or the pile is not covered, there is the potential for runoff to our streams and rivers,” Cox told The Star Press (http://tspne.ws/1tfzYs6 ). “We have rules, and yet some of our farmers continue to violate the rules even to the point of staging near a river with a slope. As a fourth-generation farm family, I am amazed at the lack of stewardship by some farmers.”

In March, Cox filed a complaint about a manure pile on Ind. 1 between Hagerstown and U.S. 36 in Randolph County.

On March 17, state pesticide investigator Elizabeth Carter found the pile, which had been there since Jan. 10. It was not bermed or covered.

The investigator told New Castle farmer Mark Lawyer the pile had to be covered because it had been staged for more than 72 hours. Because it was his first offense, Lawyer, whose wife told The Star Press the couple were not interested in commenting, got off with a warning.

But the hauler who transported the manure to the farm, Adam Hollinger, of New Madison, Ohio, was fined $100 for not having a license to haul manure in Indiana.

“I got fined for it, no warning, no nothing,” Hollinger told The Star Press. Licensed in Ohio, he didn’t know he needed an Indiana license. “People from town moving out to the country don’t want to see chicken manure piles, so they came up with some rules.”

Air pollution is another concern to neighbors.

“The dust that blows off the piles has many pathogens,” Cox said. “The smell is awful, and to subject neighbors having to live with this near their homes is not responsible farming. Farming should not have elevated rights over the health, well-being and quality of life of people who have lived in the area for years. People who sent in the complaints … understand that clean water gives us life.”

Responding to another complaint from Cox, the pesticide investigator found another un-bermed, uncovered manure pile from Ohio just east of Fountain City, home of the historic Levi Coffin House in Wayne County, on March 17.

Farmer David Newman assured the investigator the pile would be bermed immediately. He was issued a warning, but manure hauler John Petitjean, from Bradford, Ohio, who was not licensed in Indiana, was fined $100.

Elsewhere in Indiana, farmers were warned or fined for piling turkey manure too close to a public road; too close to a house; failing to apply two manure piles to fields within 90 days; failing to install a tarp or barrier around piles; transporting chicken manure without a license; and piling manure too close to two houses.

The Star Press first received a complaint about Ohio chicken manure 10 years ago this month from Mark and Karen Rees, Dunkirk, who were forced to spray Raid and run a vacuum cleaner daily to control an infestation of beetles they believe came from a manure pile. A farmer acknowledged the bugs probably came from the manure and apologized.

A Ball State biology professor who examined a jar of the bugs believed they were darkling beetles, a native of Africa and a widespread pest in the U.S. poultry industry.

Bug complaints from households near manure piles originating in Ohio are common, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management said.

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Information from: The Star Press, http://www.thestarpress.com

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