New regulations governing feedlots in Minnesota took effect Oct. 23. Depending on the size of their operation, producers have until 2010 to comply. All producers with feedlots of 50 animal units (AU) or more must register with the state by Jan. 1, 2002.

The new rules are both more restrictive and a bit more lenient, according to David Preisler, executive director of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association.

Producers will have to keep more records and register their feedlots every four years. Those rules are more restrictive than in the past. Conversely, producers with smaller facilities have up to 10 years to comply with the regulations. Also, producers are exempt from the state's ambient air quality standard, based on hydrogen sulfide emissions, for 21 days/year during manure handling and application.

It is clear that the state wants more planning and paperwork from its livestock producers, Preisler says.

The new rule incorporates standards that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) was already applying to newer feedlot applications.

Other requirements include:

- Producers must have permits to construct or expand feedlots or correct pollution hazards.

- Facilities with more than 1,000 AU or that are concentrated animal feeding operations must have either state disposal or National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits.

- A requirement that producers with 300 to 1,000 AU must be certified as private manure applicators.

- Producers must have manure application plans, air emission plans, pollution prevention plans and emergency response plans.

The MPCA is taking several measures to educate producers about the new regulations, says Julie Swiler, spokesperson for the agency.

The agency already has trained University of Minnesota Extension educators and county feedlot officers. In turn, these officials will be responsible for training producers in their areas.

In addition, the agency will issue fact sheets that will be available via its Web site, from regional MPCA offices and from county feedlot officers.

It is important for producers to realize they have time to learn the rules and adjust their operations, Swiler says.