One of the certainties in agriculture is that the weather will be an uncertainty. As I write this column, many fear that the lack of snowfall and moisture could increase the risk of unfavorable growing conditions this season. Of course a few timely rains would alleviate these concerns.

The seasonal rains that occur typically in April and May, along with highly productive soils are what makes Iowa an important producer of food for the U.S. and the world.

These seasonal rains also are the periods when livestock operations are most at risk for runoff to occur from feedlots. For feedlots that are greater than 1,000 head capacity, the CAFO permitting process ensures that controls are in place to preserve water quality except under the most extreme rainfall events.

Traditionally, small and medium sized feedlots were only required to do what is necessary to not cause a water quality violation. With increased regulatory scrutiny many producers are taking a hard look at the effectiveness of the controls that they may have in place.