Clean Water Act Violation: $50,000 Fine for Iowa Farm's Manure Runoff

23:41PM Mar 04, 2019
Chrysanthemum

A livestock farm in southeastern Iowa has been fined $50,000 after the owner and an employee plead guilty to charges of violating the Clean Water Act while discharging manure.

In a press release from the Department of Justice, it is outlined that Scott Allen Etcher, age 55, and Benjamin Allen McFarland, age 29, from Etcher Family Farms of New London, Iowa, were sentenced following guilty pleas to Discharge of a Pollutant. The sentencing occurred on Feb. 26, after both Etcher and McFarland had pleaded guilty on Oct. 25, 2018, to criminal violations of the Clean Water Act.

The guilty plea determined that on or around July 22, 2015, agricultural waste pollutants were negligently discharged. Benjamin McFarland, an employee of the farm, had knowingly applied liquid manure from the concentration animal feeding operation industry (CAFO) via an umbilical discharge hose onto nearby farm land. The liquid manure then runoff directly into an unnamed tributary to Big Creek. The application of the manure, which was deemed as a “pollutant” by the court, was an unpermitted discharge and had been done under the supervision of the owner and operator of Etcher Family Farms, Scott Etcher.

In an email to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Farm Journal was told that court filings by the Iowa Secretary of State indicated that the CAFO was a dairy farm.

Under the sentencing, Etcher Family Farms will serve a five years of organizational probation, pay a $50,000 fine and a $400 special assessment payable to the Crime Victims’ Fund.

Terms of the probation include:

  • The prohibition from discharging any pollutants to a water of a the United States except in compliance with a permit from the approved authority
  • Etcher Family Farms will establish, implement, and enforce an Environmental Compliance Plan and the organization will not seek early termination from probation until all obligations of the plea agreement are satisfied and the Environmental Compliance Plan has been fully implemented for two years
  • Etcher Family Farm should pay for independent laboratory analysis of samples collected by either the Iowa Department of Natural Resources or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Etcher Family Farms will publish a public notice of the agreement and underlying facts in a national trade publication serving the CAFO

In addition, Scott Allen Etcher, owner of the farm, will also serve a five year probation and is to pay a $25 special assessment to the Crime Victims’ Fund. Benjamin Allen McFarland, employee on the farm, was sentenced to two years of probation and a $25 special assessment payable to the Crime Victims’ Fund.

The case was investigated by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency. The case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.