DES MOINES – Federal Environmental Protection Agency officials announced an agreement on Sept. 19 with Branstad Farms in Hancock County to settle alleged violations of the cattle-feeding facility’s water permit.
Branstad Farms of Forest City, owned by Monroe, or Monte, Branstad, the brother of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, has agreed to pay a $5,100 civil penalty and perform a $26,000 supplemental environmental project to settle alleged violations of the facility’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, according to a news release from the EPA’s Region 7 office.
According to the agency, Branstad Farms did not maintain adequate records associated with the land application of liquid effluent and manure from its feedlot, and did not perform sampling of the materials and soil, as required by the NPDES permit.
“This settlement is the first of its kind in Region 7 concentrated animal feeding operation enforcement,” EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said in a statement.
“Branstad Farms’ willingness to undertake an environmental project like wetland restoration in lieu of a portion of their penalty will benefit Iowa’s water quality,” he added. “Wetlands provide critical habitat for plants, fish and wildlife; replenish and clean water supplies; and provide recreational opportunities.”
Branstad Farms’ facility has the capacity for about 2,500 cattle in confinement barns and outdoor pens, according to an administrative consent agreement filed by EPA Region 7 in Lenexa, Kan.
As part of the settlement agreement, Branstad Farms has certified that it is now in compliance with the Clean Water Act, according to the EPA news release. The consent agreement is subject to a 40-day public comment period before it becomes final.
EPA officials said that “failure to perform sampling or properly document land applications of a feedlot’s manure and manure-containing process wastewater can increase the risk that crops and fields may receive excessive amounts of feedlot-related contaminants. Over-application can significantly increase the risk that pollutants will end up in nearby streams and water bodies.”