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USDA - NRCS again offers incentive for farmers to build a better piggery

Pictured is the AFTER version where a wash down piggery was rebuilt into an environmentally sound, EPA compliant dry-litter piggery, funded by the USDA-NRCS. [courtesy photos]

The United States Dept. of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS) is offering an incentive to improve water quality, and at the same time teach local pig farmers better ways to manage manure. 

They can do this with a new system called a dry-litter piggery. 

In a dry-litter piggery operation, the pig farmer uses woodchips to layer half of the pigpen and then intermixes it with the pig’s waste material in order to create bio-solids— which create a good composting bi-product. Composting is a natural process whereby bacteria and fungi decompose organic material in an environmentally friendly process in which microorganisms break down organic materials. 

USDA NRCS now has a program to cost share with the farmer a dry-litter facility, which includes the operation facility, composting facility and waste alley collection.

The end product—composting material— can be used on the farmer’s garden or sold to other gardeners in need of soil enrichment material.

HERE’S HOW YOU GET INVOLVED

In order to qualify for a dry-litter piggery you need to have an existing, operational wash-down piggery which creates a resource concern.

A resource concern involves the destruction of natural resources— soil, water, air, plants, animals or humans. 

For example, the disturbance of the soil due to the pigs’ roaming around in an open space pen, causes waterlogged soil accessible to mosquitoes and other pests, who then use it as their habitat.

In the case of a wash down piggery, the waste materials are released straight into a nearby stream causing sedimentation, which kills marine life. 

The water from our homes can be extremely toxic due to some of these resource problems we are facing.  That’s why USDA-NRCS is partnering with ASEPA on an awareness program to focus attention of people in American Samoa on these resource problems so that pig farmers can switch from a wash down system to a dry-litter piggery.  

Once you determine whether or not you qualify, you must visit USDA-NRCS and sign up for a resource inventory.   This inventory is the initial visit to your piggery where staff documents the number of pigs and takes photos of the resource problems. Once this hurdle is past, you will need a Land use Permit or a site plan from the Department of Commerce and ASEPA.

HOW WE’RE MAKING IT WORK

For efficiency and better communication, an Interagency Program Management Group (IPMG) was formed in order to address the problems of improper piggery waste management and to improve the husbandry skills of pig farmers in the territory.

The IPMG group started in 1999, when the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Census (USDA 1999) found that there are over 2,700 pig farms in American Samoa with a total swine population of over 35,000 head. The interagency approach allows member agencies to pool resources and effort towards a common goal and deliver a clear, concise, united message to the community.

Although in the past there were nine member Agencies, as of today there are only 3 member agencies working together under the Interagency Program Management Group. These member agencies are ASEPA, USDA-NRCS and the Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD).

The IPMG holds monthly meetings to focus primarily on the Pre-Construction meeting. At a Pre-Construction meeting, the Representative from ASEPA, Rep from USDA-NRCS the Client (the pig farmer) and a Contractor meet and talk about the specifications of the program, the rules and regulations, construction and the design, and give the client a thorough understanding of what he is obligating himself to by signing the contract.  Once that is understood by the client, the Dry-litter piggery building can go forward.

 Costs vary for the various sizes and designs of dry-litter piggeries and the amount of cost sharing available.  Complete details are available by contacting Mila Apisa at USDA/ NRCS at 633-1031 ext 124.

Our program is all about “Helping the People Help the Land.”

A wash down piggery before it was rebuilt with funds provided by the USDA-NRCS. [courtesy photos]


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