Cayuga Lake Watershed
Agricultural Committee
March 12, 2001 Minutes

Present: Craig Schutt Liz Moran Dave Zorn Sandy Huey
Jim Young Lyn Odell Sharon Anderson Sherry Forgash

The meeting was called to order: at 9:37 AM by Craig Schutt.

Introductions were made. A new attendee, Liz Moran, was present. She is a limnologist and on the Restoration and Protection Plan Technical Committee.

Craig Schutt mentioned that Sharon Anderson has been to all the public participation meetings. She said she attended the ones at Poplar Ridge, Seneca Falls and Interlaken, also. She noticed tension between Ag. and Non. Ag. interests. One of the issues discussed were the weeds in the lake. Most people tend to think that Ag. is responsible for nutrient loading. They fail to see the other inputs. She feels there is a need for more education for the agricultural community and the general public on these issues. She would like to see the Cayuga Lake Network address these issues. She feels we need more public relations for agricultural issues. She said the Education Committee met last Thursday. They feel that actual projects need to start so they are “tangible” to the public. She mentioned the availability of funding was key to this. The next focus should be on obtaining grants for agricultural projects.

Lyn Odell was at the Poplar Ridge meeting. He felt the main concern was the spreading of liquid manure. He agrees with Sharon’s opinion of how the general public perceives agriculture. He also attended a meeting for Cayuga Marketing. He says that the farmers have an image problem that needs to be addressed. The public is not aware of the opportunities available to farmers. He mentioned that the CAFO requirements state that manure can not be spread within 100 feet of a hydrologically sensitive area. He feels these are the areas that need to be focused when educating the public. Jim Young agreed with these remarks. Craig thinks we can get this information out to the public in a brochure, similar to the AEM brochure. The public needs to be aware of the accomplishments of the agricultural community. Sharon mentioned that there are videos available about the Skaneateles Watershed. These might be purchased and used in our efforts.

Dave Zorn mentioned that in reference to the Restoration and Protection Plan, the committee could do a newsletter and announce the upcoming public forums in May. We might have one section devoted to Ag. Lyn Odell feels we could use both public and private funding and that other organizations may want to be involved in this process. Sharon would like a contact name of a professional public relations person. Craig stated that the he sees the group of farmers involved in this process as proactive and assisting other farmers. The farmers organization will be the advisory group. Lyn Odell asked who would oversee this group after it is formed. Jim Young thinks all the requirements among all agencies and groups should be consistent so the farmers are following one standard set of requirements. Sharon mentioned how following the requirements could economically affect farmers. The Education Committee also realizes that there may be a farmer who needs BMP funding and when implemented, the project will help other farms from a public relations standpoint. Jim Young mentioned how buffers help to alleviate manure runoff and how pesticides tend to runoff more when there is soil erosion. Craig said that most of the complaints he is aware of are about odor. It was mentioned how P-runoff is directly related to soil erosion. Liz Moran also mentioned pathogens. Jim Young feels that if funding is available for buffers and stream stabilization, this could be advertised and produce some positive public relations. Sandy Huey said that funding is available in Cayuga County to do Streambank work on 2 streams. Dave Zorn asked, what would be the reason for farms not to participate in the programs even if the funding is available. Odell said that the CAFO farms are required to participate. The reluctance of some farmers may be due to the fact that they must give up some of their right-of-ways when signing up for funding. For the buffer program, they are required to give up 60 feet from the stream. This amounts to a lot of land for some farms.

Liz Moran wants to know the number of farms in the Cayuga Lake Watershed that are subject to CAFO rules. She would like a percentage. Odell said that the outcome of EPA hearings may reduce the number of animal units (AU) signifying a CAFO. Liz feels it is important to the Cayuga Lake Management Plan to know the number of farms that will be regulated by the CAFO rules. Young thinks it would be better to state the acreage. Liz asked what governs manure spreading on non-CAFO farms and how is it balanced. She also asked about the quantity of soil testing done. The process of soil testing required in nutrient management plans and pre-sidress Nitrogen testing was explained. There was a discussion on how the nitrogen and phosphorus content of manure is calculated into the spreading. Liz also mentioned that Cornell is working on the feed ration balancing for livestock. Liz asked how efficiently the Cornell data is communicated to the farmers. A discussion on this topic followed. Manure, feed-rationing and runoff all tie-in to nutrient loading of the lake. Young said that nutrient management is tied to how the farmer adapts it to his farm. Odell said some farmers use a professional nutritionalist. Craig feels that the public seems to identify the larger farms as the polluting problem, when in reality the larger farms are the ones implementing the BMPs.

The committee will decide how to get all of this information to the public. The goal will be to educate the publics’ perception of agriculture. Liz wants to recognize AEM in the RPP. AEM is a voluntary program. Sandy Huey stated that all of the Tier I and II surveys are completed in Cayuga County. Craig said all the same are completed in Tompkins County. Seneca County does not have too many AEM sign-ups. Farmers are not eligible for funding if they are not signed up for AEM I and II, nutrient management plans, waste utilization plans. Cortland is almost finished with the AEM surveys in their part of the watershed.

Liz asked about the kinds of practices that have been implemented in the watershed. Sandy mentioned that some were terraces for erosion control and others were filter strips. There was a discussion on petroleum storage as a BMP. There are rules governing new storage tanks. Young asked if we could find out where the underground storage tanks are located.

Liz said that in the second draft, they are trying to identify more specific sets of recommendations targeted at the Cayuga Lake Watershed. Dave Zorn distributed the most recent draft copy. Sharon wants to see something positive said regarding agriculture. The public needs to know why it is important to preserve the land. There was a short discussion on nitrogen and phosphorus and the balancing of these nutrients. Dave mentioned the “right to farm” laws, agricultural districts, and when they will be renewed. Lyn Odell mentioned the word “pollutant’ in the second bullet of the draft copy handed out. It was suggested to list the various pollutants in that sentence. Dave Zorn suggested to include projects completed in the section on “Accomplishments”. The projects completed during the past 2-3 years should be included. Dave will work with the planning dept. to obtain all the necessary figures.

The focus will be on getting all this information out to the public. The goal will be to create a more positive image of agriculture within the general public.

There was a lengthy discussion about nitrogen and phosphorus balancing. Craig mentioned the Sequencing Batch Reactor Technology in Ithaca. Jim Young asked if the committee could get someone to talk about nitrogen and phosphorus. Karl Czymmek was suggested for this. Craig will call Karl and ask him.

The final copy of the plan is due in July. The public forum meetings must be completed by May. These dates can be found on the web at

Liz asked if the order of the 5 most critical issues listed in the draft copy were correct. They were reordered as: 1) Nutrient Management Plans, 2) Erosion, 3) Manure, and 4) Pesticides. Barnyards will be dropped. There was a discussion on herbicide applications and the requirement of record keeping by the DEC. Lyn Odell mentioned the program that he used to track manure application data.

Liz would like to have a copy of the draft hand-out edited with the corrections that were discussed at today’s meeting. Lyn and Jim will then distribute the copy to others involved in agriculture for their comments.

The next meeting will be held on March 26, 2001 at 9:30 AM in Seneca Falls.

The meeting adjourned at 11:40 AM

Respectfully submitted by,

Sherry Forgash
Tompkins County SWCD

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