Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is urging the state Environmental Hearing Board to allow a Clinton County meat processor to continue operations while it appeals recent regulatory action, warning that sudden closure of the plant would leave many livestock farmers without a market.
At issue is whether Loganton-based Nicholas Meats can continue to land-apply its food processing waste during the winter. The state Department of Environmental Protection had allowed winter spreading by the company for close to a decade but recently reversed course. The decision would effectively shutter the plant until it could establish alternate plans or build additional infrastructure for storing or dealing with the processing residuals.
In a letter supporting Nicholas Meats’ case before the EHB, Farm Bureau asked the board to allow the plant to continue winter spreading as it appeals DEP’s decision. PFB noted that Nicholas Meats uses special technology to apply residuals under snow cover, alleviating concerns about runoff, and has proposed limiting the scope of its winter application.
Sudden closure of the plant, PFB warned, would cause a significant disruption in the food-supply chain, resulting in financial fallout for many livestock farmers in the region and the potential for farmers to have to euthanize livestock. In addition, PFB said, a plant closure could have unintended environmental consequences, as a disruption in livestock going to market would put unanticipated strain on farms’ manure storage facilities.
Update: An Environmental Hearing Board judge ruled in the afternoon Friday, Feb. 19 that while the appeal is pending, Nicholas Meats may not land apply food processing waste while there is snow cover on the ground. PFB will continue to provide updates on the situation as more information becomes available.