A Kansas feedlot operator is trying to make hay by falsely claiming that EPA defined hay as a water pollutant.

The owner of the Callicrate Feeding Company has been spinning a "hay-as-pollutant" myth through the blogosphere for a couple of weeks now. While the company is certainly entitled to its own opinions about EPA, the company is not entitled to its own set of facts.

Here are the facts. On August 15, EPA's Region 7, which includes Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and nine tribal nations, took action to correct several serious environmental violations at the Callicrate Feeding Company in St. Francis, Kansas. EPA found water permit violations at Callicrate's operation that needed to be addressed. The compliance order was not based on hay. Nor would EPA have issued such an action based on hay.

To be clear: The order had nothing to do with hay. At no place in the 11-page order is the word "hay" mentioned. Nor is there mention of alfalfa or grass.

EPA cited the Callicrate operation for failure to control harmful runoff, maintain adequate manure storage capacity, keep adequate operation records, and meet the state and federal requirements of its nutrient management plan. Compliance Order (PDF) (11 pp, 1.5MB, About PDF)

EPA inspectors observed silage, and dried distillers grains within the uncontrolled feedstock storage area.

When stored inappropriately, the silage and grains can turn into a liquid material that contains contaminants detrimental to water quality. EPA inspectors also observed slaughter wastes being stored outside in an uncontrolled area. The EPA order was based on those contaminants and the other violations mentioned above.

The Callicrate facility is permitted by the State of Kansas for a capacity of 12,000 head of beef cattle and had 3,200 head at the time of the inspection. Under EPA definitions, 1,000 head of beef is considered a large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). This is not a small operation. The permitted capacity puts the company in the top five percent of the largest animal feeding operations in Region 7.

This action by EPA was issued to correct problems. Less than two weeks after the order was issued, Callicrate's attorney informed us that the company had already taken action to address the problems identified in EPA's order.

We have some indication of how other producers have perceived this fracas in a feedlot. Region 7's offer to meet with Kansas cattle producers to discuss CAFO enforcement was warmly received and we will be meeting within days. Drover/Cattle Network published an article debunking the "hay-as-pollutant" myth.

As that article concludes: "But as the industry confronts and negotiates these genuine regulatory issues, R-CALF's claim that 'EPA declares hay a pollutant to antagonize small and mid-sized U.S. cattle feeders' is unnecessary, inflammatory hyperbole."

For Mike Callicrate's response to this EPA release, see: Kansas cattle producer responds to EPA claims on pollutant hay