Manure Policies

Thirty out of the 34 countries (85%) report having national policies affecting manure management on livestock farms (figure 1). Policies are mainly defined by the Ministries of Agriculture and of Environment. Sometimes the Ministries of Energy and of Public Health are also involved. The manure policies are generally portrayed as a means to achieving methane emissions reductions and renewable energy targets. Rarely do the policies promote holistic approaches to manure management. They neglect the value of manure – even after anaerobic digestion – as an organic fertilizer and supplier of soil organic matter. Many policies may only target some manure management components such as manure storage, application, and disposal.

Note that the absence of manure policy or its enforcement is not an indicator of bad manure management practices.

Figure 1. Countries with (green) and without (red) manure management policies

Force field policy vs practice

Whereas policy is always addressing national issues, farmers mainly focus on sufficient income, a good livelihood and food security. They want short-term returns on any investments. And although reduction of SLCPs may have positive effects on these factors in the far future, this is clearly not their daily concern. This is a force field in which both policy makers and farmers have to be aware of each other’s responsibilities.

No coherency

Where multiple ministries are involved in the manure policy design, the total set of legislative rules often lacks of coherency (figure 2). Overall legislation is not complementary and even sometimes contradictive. Often the legislation shows gaps (single-issue solutions) and does not always fit with the common farm practices. The figure shows that only Vietnam and some West African countries report to have a coherent set of rules.

Figure 2. Level of coherency in the manure legislation
Green = very good: very complementary; holistically approached national policy in which relevant ministries have adapted their departmental policies to each other’s responsibilities resulting in an integral manure management policy (taking into account i.e. human health, different pollutions, use of natural resources etc.)
Yellow = moderate: some contradicts, i.e. environmental policy in line with proper manure management, but no connection with human health policies; or overall no conflicting policies but maybe still some policy gaps remain to be solved.
Orange = bad/none: contradictive; no holistically approached national policy, policy often based on single issues by responsible ministries, with as a result conflicting legislation.

Weak enforcement

In general the enforcement of manure policies is weak (figure 3). Especially when multiple ministries are involved, coordination is lacking between the ministries and or their enforcing bodies. This leads to unclear procedures and penalties for non-compliance and leaves room for personal interpretation by government officials. Only China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Panama, Ecuador and Chile reported well-coordinated and performed law enforcement


Figure 3. Level of law enforcement
Green = very strict: not complying immediately leads to penalties
Yellow = moderate; strict but first a warning and a time frame within which improvements have to be made
Orange = weak/none: rules are not enforced or just on selected farms (based on size, location etc.)