Local dairy cited by EPA for improper disposal

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Peachey Dairy Inc. to “cease the improper disposal of deceased animals” in order to comply with the facility’s approved nutrient management plan and permit.

Peachey, 3200 Verna Road in Sarasota County, has also been ordered to provide quarterly sampling reports for its waste storage pond to determine nutrient levels.

The EPA administrative order announced Tuesday was for nine facilities in the Southeast. Peachey Dairy was the only facility on the list from Florida.

EPA inspectors observed March 23, 2009, that dead animals had been disposed of above ground with no suitable soil cover. The EPA requires that carcasses either be burned or buried under two feet of suitable soil cover, according to the EPA letter to Peachey.

“By taking these enforcement actions, we are sending a strong message about the importance of protecting rivers, lakes and streams across the Southeast,” said Stan Meiburg, EPA Region 4 acting regional administrator in a press release. “To protect our region’s waters, these regulated entities must comply with the Clean Water Act and promptly take the steps needed to resolve the violations noted in our inspections.”

The Bradenton Herald was unable to contact John Peachey, president of Peachey Dairy, for comment.

Glenn Compton, director of local environmental watchdog group Manasota-88, said the EPA order shows that agriculture continues to be one of the most under-regulated industries in Florida.

“It takes a lot for the EPA to file a complaint against a dairy, so it must have been a pretty egregious violation,” Compton said.

Ralph Garrison, president of the Manatee County Farm Bureau, took issue with Compton’s statement about the regulation of agriculture.

“I would suggest the contrary. Unscientific remarks such as that make it harder for farms to survive. Agriculture is probably more regulated than most industries. We still provide the safest, most abundant food supply in the world,” Garrison said.

Peachey Dairy was one of several Florida dairies included in a federal lawsuit filed in 2003 for disposal of tons manure without a proper permit.

The 2003 lawsuit was brought by ManaSota-88 and the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, which joined the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation.

Aerial photography was presented in the lawsuit showing a possible discharge in a ditch on the west side of Verna Road, which connected to the headwaters of Indian Creek or Gum Slough.

In 2004, a final order was entered in the case requiring concentrated animal feeding operations to get a permit for wastewater discharge from the Department of Environmental Regulation, Compton said Tuesday.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee Editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.