The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) Thursday published emergency COVID-19 amendments to the state regulations under the Dead Animal Disposal Act. The amendments were effective immediately.

“The COVID-19 emergency has created unique problems for Illinois producers and processors of meat and poultry who do not have access to all their normal markets and who may not be able to operate at full capacity due to employee absences,” IDOA wrote in its COVID-19 emergency provisions.

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“In some cases, they have acquired or are holding more livestock/poultry than they can move to market, leading to a need to dispose of some of that livestock/poultry,” IDOA continued. “To allow these producers and processors to efficiently dispose of excess animals and to protect the public health in the disposal process, the Department is making changes to (emergency definitions), (emergency transportation) and (emergency disposal) through emergency rulemaking.

Under emergency definitions, "disposed of" is defined as initiation of the process of proper carcass disposal as set forth in the Illinois Dead Animal Disposal Act. “Operator” is defined as the person or entity designated by the owner, through contract or otherwise, as responsible for conveying dead animals.

Under transportation, emergency guidelines added the owner, operator, caretaker or animal collection service may dispose of bodies of dead animals, poultry or fish by transporting the bodies to a licensed landfill for disposal or by transporting to a composting site as approved by the Department.

Emergency on-site disposal guidelines for burial require a sufficient layer of uniform cover be provided completely over carcasses. Precautions shall be taken to minimize soil erosion.

Composting requirements for poultry include the following: control disease vectors, dust and litter; ensure that livestock carcasses are not visible from public roads or habitable structures; rot-resistant building materials, such as preservative-treated lumber, shall be used; keep livestock carcasses in the composting facility until completely composted before spreading compost on the land. The size of the composter shall be based on the farm's projected mortality rate of poultry, in which one pound of dead poultry per cubic foot of primary compost space per day is provided.

Composting requirements for swine include the following: control disease vectors, dust, and litter; ensure that livestock carcasses are not visible from public roads or habitable structures; begin processing all livestock carcasses within 24 hours after the animals' deaths; keep livestock carcasses in the composting facility until completely composted before spreading on land; and remove all finished compost within 12 months after compost process completed.

For more information, contact Lauren Lurkins, Illinois Farm Bureau director of environmental policy, at LLurkins@ilfb.org.