Goehring forming panel to
review ag-related regulations
BISMARCK –Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has announced the formation of a regulatory review committee to help farmers and ranchers deal with the increasing load of federal regulations.
“Agricultural producers are being swamped with federal regulations that impact their operations, increase their costs and reduce their profits,” Goehring said. “I have asked the state’s agricultural organizations and commodity groups to appoint representatives to the committee to study and review proposed regulations with the goal of addressing concerns and defending the agriculture industry.”
Goehring pointed to recent proposed rules implementing sections of the Clean Water Act, the Worker Protection Standard and the Clean Air Act as having significant impacts on agriculture.
“The new rules all came down about the same time, just as farmers were working in the fields with little time to spend reading hundreds of pages of complicated federal regulations,” Goehring said. “It almost seems as if the federal agencies were uninterested in any feedback or simply did not want any.”
The commissioner noted that farmers and ranchers must deal with rules from a variety of federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Goehring said the committee will also provide input to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture to develop comments on proposed federal and state rules before they are implemented.
“Committee members bring to the table knowledge about specific sectors of our agriculture industry,” Goehring said. “Some, perhaps most, will also be farmers and ranchers themselves with firsthand knowledge of regulatory impacts.”
Goehring said the committee meetings and deliberations would be open to the public.
“This is all about public policy,” he said. “It must be as open and transparent as possible.”
Goehring said he hoped the committee will hold its first meeting in July or August.
Blue-green Algae Poisoning Threatens Livestock
Several livestock deaths have been attributed to blue-green algae poisoning in North Dakota recently, putting livestock producers and veterinarians on alert.
Cases usually occur in late summer or early fall, when stagnant ponds and the right nutrient conditions allow for overgrowth of algae, according to Gerald Stokka, North Dakota State University Extension veterinarian and livestock stewardship specialist. However, this spring’s mild weather and warm water have been ideal conditions for algae blooms to occur.
Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, typically grow in stagnant, warm pond water. When the algae die, they produce a toxin that is poisonous to most livestock and wildlife, including ducks, geese, rabbits, muskrats, frogs, fish and snakes.
Under favorable conditions, blue-green algae can double in number in 24 hours, and these blooms can turn pond water blue to brownish green.
“A close watch for unexplained livestock deaths is important,” Stokka says. “Consult a veterinarian to find a cause of death so steps can be taken to prevent additional livestock deaths.”
He also urges producers to take note of any dead wildlife around bodies of water because that could be an indication of blue-green algae in the water. The algae flourish only in the top few inches of water, so toxic concentrations typically are found just in small ponds where waves don’t mix the water thoroughly. Blue-
green algae blooms do not occur in lakes and rivers.
A veterinarian can help determine if a particular pond has toxic concentrations of the algae, Stokka says.
Another option is to send a water sample to the NDSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The lab also can diagnose a blue-green algae problem in dead animals if someone sends a liver sample. For more information on how to submit samples, contact the lab at (701) 231-7527 or (701) 231-8307, or visit its website at
If a pond contains toxic concentrations of blue-green algae, keep animals from drinking the water by fencing off the pond and providing another source of water. Because the toxins are concentrated at the surface, water may be pumped from the bottom of deep sloughs or potholes to watering tanks.
Generally, toxic algae blooms last only a few days, but they may persist for several weeks.
Small ponds that don’t drain into other waterways or bodies of water may need to be treated with copper sulfate or an algicide. Stokka recommends a treatment rate of 2 pounds of copper sulfate per acre-foot of water. That approximates a rate of 8 pounds per 1 million gallons.
Toxin levels increase immediately after treatment, so livestock should not be allowed to drink from treated ponds for a week.
For more information on detecting blue-green algae and protecting livestock from its toxins, contact your county office of the NDSU Extension Service. Ask for the publication “Cyanobacteria (Blue Green Algae) Poisoning.”