About half a dozen smaller dairy farms in the Shenandoah Valley will be subject to inspection by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the first half of May, valley dairy operators learned at a meeting with EPA officials.

The meeting provided an opportunity for dairy farmers to learn about the EPA’s inspection process and what types of activities the federal inspectors will be looking for, said Tony Banks, a Virginia Farm Bureau Federation commodity marketing specialist. "The farmers have a lot of concerns. That was evident from the large turnout and the variety and number of questions producers had for EPA."

The farms that will be inspected have not yet been chosen, EPA Environmental Scientist Mark Zolandz said, but they are likely to be operations that do not have Virginia Pollution Abatement program permits, which are required for dairies with more than 200 cows.

Producers whose farms are inspected will receive 24 to 48 hours’ notice before an inspection, and the EPA will be looking at their farms’ impact on surface water and groundwater, as well as their best management practices to protect water quality.