The4th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources was held on Wednesday, October 13, 2004, at 12:30 PM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Ernie Harris, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Ernie Harris, Co-Chair; Representative Roger Thomas, Co-Chair; Senators David Boswell, Vernie McGaha, Joey Pendleton, Tim Shaughnessy, Damon Thayer, and Elizabeth Tori; Representatives Royce Adams, Sheldon Baugh, James Bruce, Dwight Butler, Mike Cherry, Hubert Collins, James Comer, Howard Cornett, Tim Couch, Mike Denham, Keith Hall, Jimmy Higdon, Charlie Hoffman, Thomas McKee, Charles E. Meade, Brad Montell, Fred Nesler, Don Pasley, Marie Rader, Brandon Smith, Tommy Turner, and Brent Yonts.
Guests: Eric Gregory, East Kentucky Power Cooperative; Lee Sullivan, Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund; Mike Ridenour, Columbia Gas; Ned Sheehy, Nancy Yelton, Kentucky League of Cities; Danielle Ellis and Patricia Wimsatt, Daviess County; Dr. Robert Stout, Kentucky Department of Agriculture; Mr. Jim Akers and Mr. John Stephenson, Kentucky Beef Network; Secretary LaJuana Wilcher, Vaughn Murphy, Karen Wilson, and Bruce Scott, Cabinet for Environment and Public Protection.
LRC Staff: Tanya Monsanto, Biff Baker, Lowell Atchley, Hank Marks, and Kelly Blevins.
Senator Harris thanked everyone for being in attendance given that the General Assembly was in a special session. He asked for a motion on the minutes from the September 8, 2004 meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. Sen. Boswell made the motion, seconded by Rep. Collins. The minutes were approved by voice vote. Then, Senator Harris asked the first panel of speakers testifying about animal identification to introduce themselves.
Dr. Robert Stout, State Veterinarian, introduced himself and then introduced Mr. Jim Akers and Mr. John Stevenson with the Kentucky Beef Network. Dr. Stout said that animal identification is a response to recent incidences of animal disease that result in mass slaughtering of animals and public health risks. There have been some recent outbreaks of disease in the United States, but not of the same magnitude as outbreaks that have occurred overseas. The United States, like many other countries, is most concerned with bovine spongiform encepalopathy (BSE) commonly referred to as mad cow disease.
Dr. Stout described the animal welfare problems associated with the mass slaughtering of animals due to diseases, and as well as some of the social, environmental, and food supply issues. Dr. Stout described disease transmission differentiating between those which are transmissible among animals and those which can be transmitted from animal to humans. He said, in the United States there are approximately 38 thousand animals being transported. If there is an incidence of animal disease, the ability to track all the animals with the disease, the places they have been, and who those animals came in contact with is necessary. The goal of a tracking system is to protect human health and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has a 48-hour traceability goal.
Then, Dr. Stout described the phases of the program. He stated KDA is in the awareness phase. The Department is trying to explain the animal identification project to affected parties. Then Dr. Stout described the four components of the national animal identification system (NAIS) program. The components of NAIS are as follows: identify premises, implement a numbering system, implement a numbering system for groups of animals, and develop a tag system for animals. He said NAIS has issues that need to be clarified such as tag management, data ownership, and data access. Dr. Stout said, the cost of the program to the state and the farmers must be reasonable too.
Dr. Stout described the types of animals that will come under the NAIS program. Right now this is basically a cattle program, but it will affect poultry, swine, and goats. Kentucky production of cattle is now the 8th largest in the United States. Dr. Stout then described how the information on animals and premises will be recorded in the database. He also described the funding components of the federal program. Kentucky applied for and received a grant from United States Department of Agriculture for $269,000 to implement premises identification and tracking in the NAIS program.
Regarding access to information, Dr. Stout stated that there were confidentiality concerns; however, much of the information that will be in the database is already in the public domain. Dr. Stout then discussed personnel needs, relationships with other groups and associations, and the time frames for implementing the two projects.
Mr. Jim Akers then described the South East Livestock Network (SELN). He said that there are ten states in SELN and all realize the benefits of tracking animals throughout the region. He said, there is a need for more involvement in developing a tracking system at the national level; however, one major concern has been diversion of state authority for disease identification and disease management. These two aspects are appropriate to state jurisdiction. The SELN has been trying to decentralize the project.
Mr. Akers then described some of the confidentiality issues and the marketing structure for cattle in Kentucky. He said that NAIS can address the country of origin problem for tracking cattle. The United States and Kentucky can satisfy world demand for source identified animals.
Sen. Harris asked if there are other countries free of BSE that compete with the United States. Dr. Stout said that the United States has limited imports from BSE countries to keep the country free of disease. Mr. added stated yes, Australia is a case in point. Australia satisfies the Japanese market since the United States had an incidence of mad cow disease.
Sen. Harris asked about the master cattleman program. Does KDA or Kentucky Cattleman Association (KCA) offer a database to producers and ranchers and does it update the database through an integrated system? Mr. Stevenson said KCA has 2 programs, one PC based and the other Internet based. The PC based system cannot be integrated with the NAIS.
Sen. Harris asked if producers could obtain incentives for participating in the animal tracking program. Mr. Akers said the marketplace already shows value for animal identification. He described recent cattle sales in Missouri.
Rep. Pasley asked if there will be both premise and animal identification. Dr. Stout replied that one problem is how to get both numbers into a single system.
Rep. Denham introduced constituents in the audience. He then asked about the cost of the system by animal. Mr. Akers stated the tag is about 50 cents per head. The more animals there are then the lower the cost per head.
Rep. Baugh asked if farmers will be tagging their own animals. Mr. Akers stated the SELN encourages farmers to tag their own animals. Rep. Baugh then asked if there were private companies competing for a contract to monitor the process. Mr. Akers stated that the SELN offers this service, but there is a data management company interested in doing so also.
Rep. McKee asked about the timeline for the project. Dr. Stout stated that the project should be in place by the summer of 2006. One key element is obtaining processing numbers for farms.
Mr. Lee Sullivan with Kentucky R-CALF introduced himself. He described problems with international competition for cattle and the role that BSE has played in reducing demand for U.S. cattle. He stated there is a need to implement an animal identification system in the United States to stem competition from countries like Australia. He added the cattle importation relationship with Canada should end.
Finally, Secretary Wilcher with the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet introduced herself and proceeded to discuss litter abatement and the implementation of HB 174. The Secretary stated that litter problems have been left over since the 1960s and 1970s. She stated that progress was made to clean up waste and litter with the enactment of SB 2. Since 1993, the Division of Waste Management has cleaned up 21,000 dumps and spent roughly $50 million dollars. Since 1997, the Division issued 52,000 letters of warning and citations. There have been roughly 3,000 notice of violations. In 2003, $6 million was spent to clean up dump. It was a joint effort between state and local governments.
Secretary Wilcher then described the human and ecological issues with illegal dumps. She stated that before HBO 174 most of the focus was on illegal dumps. With the passage of HB 174 greater attention is being focused on litter. She then described the Kentucky PRIDE program and the funding sources for that program.
Secretary Wilcher discussed the differences between orphan landfills and illegal dumps. She said orphan landfills are harder to detect due to vegetation growth. Sometimes orphan landfills cannot be detected until there is leachate. Secretary Wilcher also described the prioritization process for funding cleanups by county and how the pride funds will be used for characterization of landfills. Then, Secretary Wilcher described the use of remediation fees and the counties that recently received funds to high risk cleanups.
Sen. Harris asked if there is anything in the law that needs to be changed to improve the cabinet's ability to address litter abatement and landfill management. Sec. Wilcher described four issues that could be addressed legislatively that are of interest to the cabinet. She stated HB 174 requires two payments per year to counties. It would be easier to make one payment per year. Also, the litter abatement formula for determining money to counties is too complicated. It would be better if the formula was simplified. Also, the cabinet has made progress in cleaning up illegal dumps, but continually find new dumps. We need to explore how to keep the waste from the illegal dumps out of the waste stream once clean up occurs. That could be done by exploring recycling programs. Finally, eligibility for litter abatement funds and the responsibilities for cleanup by cities and counties needs to be clarified. Right now statues states that cities must have two cleanups. Counties must have three cleanups. Does a cleanup include every road mile? The cabinet has struggled with this issue in the regulatory process. We anticipate having a regulation that will address the cleanup issue, but the meaning of cleanup can be interpreted differently by the different parties. These legislative concerns will make administration of HB 174 easier.
Rep. Thomas apologized to Sec. Wilcher for not giving the cabinet adequate time before the committee to address these issues. He then asked about how much money the cabinet has collected from tipping fees. Sec. Wilcher stated $9.8 million dollars. Rep. Thomas then asked why Bowling Green was not on the list of counties receiving litter abatement funds. A representative from the cabinet stated that funds were not received by the city because Bowling Green did not have a contract for pickup. The county received the entire disbursement in litter funds and then the city received a portion of those funds from the county.
Sen. Harris asked if SB 2 was working. He stated that the reason for having the cabinet here today was to determine if there are any changes needed to be made in the law or with respect to landfills. Sec. Wilcher stated there was nothing immediate, but the cabinet would follow-up with him. Sen. Harris thanked the cabinet for their responsiveness.
Sen. Pendleton remarked that there still remains problems with tobacco warehouse cleanups. Lead and asbestos still contaminate these warehouses and nothing has happened since passage of the Brownfields bill. He pointed out the need to look at the issue of tobacco warehouse cleanups next session.
Sen. Harris thanked the speakers. A motion was made and seconded to adjourn. The committee adjourned at approximately 2:40 p.m..