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County rewrites manure management rules

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La Crosse County has revised its manure management ordinance, with a few key additions to better align local rules with state regulations, county officials said.

Most of the changes amount to a “rearrangement” of the ordinance to streamline and make it more understandable, said Gregg Stangl, county land conservation director. The proposed revision reduces the ordinance from nine pages to six, Stangl said.

New to the regulations is manure storage pits that have gone unused for two years — no additions or removals for spreading — will be considered abandoned and must be properly shut down. That includes removing any remaining manure and contaminated soil, a process that can mean digging down 6 to 12 inches depending on the soil type, Stangl said.

Those who intend to apply manure or other fertilizers to fields also will have to have a certified nutrient management plan signed by a certified crop adviser, Stangl said.

With this in mind, the county will continue to offer free classes that will allow farmers to write and certify their own plans, Stangl said. The two-day classes for beginners are usually in January and February — lunch even is provided, Stangl said — while those who have taken the initial course can come back annually for update sessions with staff over a period of weeks in the winter.

That allows farmers to develop their own plans at home, then check in with the county to make sure the plans comply with the ordinance, Stangl said. The system so far has worked well, with classes and sessions usually filling each year. No date has yet been set for the 2015 sessions.

A public hearing on the revised ordinance has been set for 6 p.m. Oct. 27 at the county’s Planning, Resources and Development Committee meeting in room B410 of the County Administrative Center, 400 N. Fourth St. People in agriculture or livestock production can bring in their questions or concerns at that time, Stangl said.

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