The Maine Nutrient Management Law, 7:4201 et seq., enacted by the legislature in 1998, established the framework for a comprehensive Nutrient Management Program. The Nutrient Management Rules, 01-001 Chapter 565, which ensued, were based on the Nutrient Management Law. The impetus for regulating farm nutrients primarily came from the farming community itself and from local soil and water conservation districts and others, who shared a common interest in the proper storage, management and utilization of these nutrients. There was conviction among farmers and agricultural leaders that the best way to address the nutrient management concerns would be by taking a proactive approach to managing these issues.

Nutrient Management Loan Program

The Nutrient Management Loan Program helps farms and other agricultural businesses fund nutrient management projects such as the construction of new manure or milk house waste containment facilities or repairs to existing facilities, composting facilities, certain irrigation systems, vegetated treatment areas, heavy use area protection, and other related projects in the State of Maine.

Projects must be deemed eligible by the DACF. Loan funds may not be used for working capital, non-project-related equipment and expenses, or refinancing. Borrowers that are defined as a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) are not eligible for this program.

Visit FAMEMaine.com for the full details, including how to apply.

About the Nutrient Management Law

The Law has several components around which various initiatives of the Law are focused. A key element of the Nutrient Management Program is the Nutrient Management Plan, of which over 900 have been developed since the inception of the program. Farm operations that meet certain conditions are required to develop a Plan, specifically if:

  • The farm confines and feeds 50 or more animal units at any one time (one animal unit = 1000 pounds of live animal weight);
  • The farm stores or utilizes more than 100 tons of solid manure or 25,000 gallons of liquid manure or compost per year not generated on that farm;
  • The farm is the subject of a verified complaint of improper manure handling; or
  • The farm stores or utilizes regulated residuals.

Interested individuals are trained to be certified as nutrient management planners and are licensed by the Program, who then may develop and approve Nutrient Management Plans. A list of certified planners is available from the Nutrient Management Office. The Nutrient Management Office oversees nutrient management planning, coordinates enforcement actions as needed, and responds to municipalities and others regarding Right-to-Farm matters. A key element of the program is the ban on winter manure spreading from December 1st through March 15th of the following year.

Another component of the Law requires that certain livestock operations, because of their size or other criteria, are required to obtain a Livestock Operations Permit (LOP) from the Department. Also issued concurrently with the LOP, if applicable, is a Maine Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (MEPDES) permit. MEPDES permits are issued by the Department of Environmental Protection in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. The Department also monitors concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), consistent with the Chapter 565 Nutrient Management Rules, and assists these farms with compliance to federal CAFO Rules.