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CAFOs eligible for new state water quality funding

A vista shot of a green Snake River twisting through a canyon
Chad H
Flickr Creative Commons

New grant funding is available for Idaho dairies and feedlots to improve soil, water or air quality.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has $5 million in one-time funds to hand out to concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. Those are large livestock or poultry farms that, by nature, have a lot of waste. It's often stored in lagoons and gets applied to fields.

Mary Anne Nelson, the surface and wastewater division administrator for DEQ, is running the CAFO Improvement Fund established by the legislature this year.

“The purpose of this was to help those folks who are operating those facilities improve, upgrade, what it is that they're doing to treat the water before it goes out and gets land-applied," she said.

A big part of that, she said, is removing solids from the waste source.

DEQ already had some grants to help farms improve water quality, but many CAFOs weren’t eligible, so industry groups including the Idaho Dairymen's Association and Idaho Cattle Association asked the legislature for this funding source.

Nelson said there are currently 420 dairy CAFOs and 160 beef feedlots in Idaho that are permitted.

The grant applications are due at the end of this month. A single producer can’t get more than $1 million, and applicants have to provide 40% of the project costs from a source outside of the Improvement Fund.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.

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