Iowa governor's brother fined for EPA violation

9/19/2013 10:45 AM
By Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The brother of Gov. Terry Branstad agreed Thursday to pay a fine and spend $26,000 to install a wetland area after his cattle farm failed to comply with requirements of its clean water permit, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Branstad Farms near Forest City did not maintain adequate records for the application of manure onto farm land and did not sample the manure and soil as required in its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.

Failure to perform sampling or properly document land applications of a feedlot's manure can increase the risk that crops and fields may receive excessive amounts of feedlot-related contaminants. Over-application can significantly increase the risk that pollutants will end up in nearby streams and water bodies.

EPA documents show that Monroe Branstad, the governor's brother, operates the farm in Hancock County. He did not immediately return a message for comment Thursday. The governor declined comment, his spokesman said.

The farm has the capacity for about 2,500 cattle in confinement barns and outdoor pens, the EPA said.

A settlement agreement between Branstad and the EPA requires the farm to pay a $5,100 civil penalty and spend the additional money to install a wetlands restoration area.

"This settlement is the first of its kind in Region 7 concentrated animal feeding operation enforcement," EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said in a statement. "Branstad Farms' willingness to undertake an environmental project like wetland restoration in lieu of a portion of their penalty will benefit Iowa's water quality."

Wetlands provide habitat for plants, fish and wildlife and can replenish and clean water supplies, the EPA said.

The EPA Region 7, based in Lenexa, Kan., includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.

As part of the settlement agreement, Branstad Farms certified it is in compliance with the Clean Water Act. The consent agreement is subject to a 40-day public comment period before it becomes final.

Monroe Branstad was fined $10,000 for discharging manure into a tributary of the Winnebago River in 2011 after state environmental officials received a complaint the year before that about 900,000 gallons of manure was applied to a field. The manure flowed across the field and eventually into the tributary.

Branstad also paid a $10,205 civil penalty for illegally discharging corn silage leachate in 2008.

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