Portable toilet law cleaned up for farms | farm field sanitation units | portable toilets on farms | Michigan Farm News

Portable toilet law cleaned up for farms

Category: Politics

by Nicole Sevrey, Michigan Farm Bureau

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“Allowing farmers to move these facilities from field to field will increase efficiency and prevent farm activities from coming to a standstill…”

Farms that provide portable toilets and handwashing stations on their operations, either for employees or consumers, will be able to more easily transport the so-called “field sanitation units” thanks to a bill passed by the state House and Senate.

Now heading to Gov. Snyder for final approval, House Bill 4438, introduced by House Agriculture Committee Chair Tom Barrett, was supported by Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) and allows a farm to transport portable toilets, under certain conditions, over a roadway without a septage haulers license. The ability to move the units to various farm locations is imperative so the operation can—without wasting time and incurring unnecessary costs—comply with standards like the Good Agricultural Practices program, the Food Safety Modernization Act, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements.

“It’s not uncommon for workers to be harvesting crops in one area and then move to a field down the street,” said bill sponsor Rep. Tom Barrett. “To comply with current law, farmers would have to halt operations and wait for a contractor to move the portable toilets before farm operations can resume.”

“Allowing farmers to move these facilities from field to field will increase efficiency and prevent farm activities from coming to a standstill while waiting on a company to perform the routine service.”

According to MFB’s Government Relations Manager Matt Smego, the bill is another example of how effective the organization’s grass-roots policy development process is.

“The concept of supporting a farm’s ability to move portable toilets within and between their farms originated as a county-level policy resolution based on what local growers were experiencing,” Smego said. “The policy was finessed by our state policy development committee and ultimately approved by delegates to our state annual meeting.”

“Our member-developed policy book is the main reason we’re able to successfully advocate for changes like this and protect farmers’ ability to run their operations safely yet efficiently,” Smego said.

Are you exempt?

To be exempt from the septage waste haulers requirements, the following criteria must be met:

  • The management, pumping, and temporary storage of the waste from the portable toilets must not cause a septage release into the environment.
  • The portable toilets must be secured and transported in a manner that prevents a release.
  • The portable toilets containing septage are not moved on or across a limited access highway as defined in the Michigan Vehicle Code.
  • The farm operation does not store domestic septage for more than 60 days or in a tank larger than 3,000 gallons.
  • The farm operation utilizes the services of a person with a septage waste servicing license and septage waste vehicle license to dispose of the domestic septage from the portable toilets in a receiving facility.
  • The farm operation does not move domestic septage on or across a public street, road, or highway in a tank larger than 450 gallons.
  • The portable toilets are used to comply with requirements listed in the publication from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.