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Kansas Faces Shortage of Cattle Feedlot Inspectors

Grant Gerlock
Harvest Public Media

The Kansas agency that oversees all the cattle feedlots and hog farms in the state doesn’t have a single full-time engineer to scrutinize waste water disposal.

Kansas has more than 1,700 feedlots and hog farms, it’s one of the top destinations for big animal confinement facilities. But right now, the woman in charge of permitting new operations is short-handed.

Tara Mahin used to have 4 full-time environmental engineers. Now she’s got none, though she’s been recruiting since November.

"I don’t think there are many out of work engineers anymore," Mahin says.

Having no one full-time qualified to approve new sewage disposal systems for these facilities has backed up the system, creating a backlog for new projects.

"It’s not impacting water quality, it’s more impacting economic development," she says.

Mahin says her engineers don’t police spills or contamination, they just sign off on new permits.