SUPREME BEEF submits new nutrient management plan
Update! Supreme Beef has withdrawn its latest nutrient management plan. They are expected to submit a revised nutrient management plan which will be followed by a public comment period. In the meantime, Supreme Beef has been ordered by the Department of Natural Resources that they cannot empty any of their manure containment structures until they have an approved nutrient management plan.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will be gathering public comment on Supreme Beef newest nutrient management plan on August 8 at 10:00 virtually. You must register for the virtual meeting by 4:30 pm on Monday, August 7 by sending an email to Kelli.Book@dnr.iowa.gov or calling Kelli at (515) 210-3408 with your name and email address. Please also state if you will be making a comment during the meeting.
In addition to the public meeting, you may submit written comments to Kelli.Book@dnr.iowa.gov by 4:30 pm on Friday, August 11, 2023.
Comments should be limited to the following topics: 1) that the NMP was submitted according to procedures required by the DNR and 2) that the NMP complies with the provisions of 567 Iowa Administrative Code 65.
Supreme Beef LLC is beef cattle feeding operation in Clayton County, housing 11,600 animals. It operates as an open feedlot because the animals are housed in an unroofed or partially roofed area. DNR regulations say that if the animals are housed in a building that is at least 10% unroofed, it is an open feedlot. In the case of Supreme Beef, the 10% unroofed portion is the feed bunk. So the animals stick their heads out of the buildings to eat. The cattle never leave the buildings to go outdoors.
Supreme Beef sits near the headwaters of Bloody Run Creek, one of the most treasured trout streams in Iowa. It is also designated as an Outstanding Iowa Water.
A Polk County District Court judge ruled that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) improperly approved the previous version of Supreme Beef’s nutrient management plan. The nutrient management plan is a document that lays out the amount of manure that can be applied to crop fields and identifies those fields, so that the manure can be used by the crops and will not run off the fields into water bodies.
The DNR told Supreme Beef that they must submit a new plan. Until that plan has been approved, Supreme Beef is not authorized to empty any of its manure storage structures.
The revised plan is now under consideration.
Problems with the latest nutrient management plan
Sierra Club has identified a number of problems with the recent version of the nutrient management plan, including
- The effluent basin cannot be sited in karst terrain. Supreme Beef claims they are separating the solids in the animal waste from the liquid. If they are, then the earthen storage basin is a settled open feedlot effluent basin. Legally, a settled open feedlot effluent basin cannot be operated in karst terrain. Supreme Beef was built in karst terrain.
- Although the new nutrient management plan claims the solids and liquids in the manure are being separated, it appears that Supreme Beef has abandoned the separation process. If they indeed have abandoned the separation process, the nutrient management plan cannot claim they are separating the solids and liquids.
- The numbers used for the concentration of nutrients in the manure are incorrect. The new plan claims the numbers come from a table provided by the Department of Natural Resources. However, the numbers are not in the table.
- The current plan identifies 26 fields to apply the solid and liquid manure while the previous plan identified 45 fields. It is a concern that there may not be enough land to apply the manure solids and liquids.
- The plan does not identify if solids or liquids are being applied to the fields. The concentration of nutrients varies between liquids and solids. That will affect the application rates, so that the manure can be applied in an amount that will not run off the fields.
- There is no accounting for ephemeral gully erosion from the fields.
Below, photo of Bloody Run Creek by Larry Stone.