Pork Industry Looks For Common Sense In CAFO Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Pork Producers Council today released its preliminary views on the federal Clean Water Act rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency – published in today’s Federal Register – that would regulate concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
calendar icon 7 July 2006
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“Our initial review of today’s proposed rule indicates that EPA has proposed an effective regulatory program that maintains clean water while keeping regulatory costs for producers low,“ said Randy Spronk, chairman of NPPC’s Environment Committee and a hog producer from Minnesota. “But the details are important, and we will conduct a thorough review of the proposed rule.“

The proposed regulation is a revision of a rule issued in February 2003 that required CAFOs over a certain size to obtain National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits and to develop and implement nutrient management plans (NMPs). NPPC and other livestock groups challenged the 2003 CAFO rule in federal court, arguing that the Clean Water Act requires NPDES permits only for producers who discharge.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed with that argument and also confirmed a provision in the 2003 rule that classified “discharges“ of manure applied to land as agricultural runoff, not as stormwater discharges subject to Clean Water Act regulation. It also ruled that CAFOs with NPDES permits must submit detailed NMPs for review by their state environmental regulatory agency and for comments by the public. The court ordered EPA to revise the 2003 rule.

Spronk pointed out that the Second Circuit decision paved the way for clear national water quality protection standards that pork producers can meet with or without a federal Clean Water Act permit.

“We hope EPA has fully complied with last year’s federal court decision, which, while not perfect, created a balanced program that could really succeed,“ added Joy Philippi, president of NPPC and a pork producer from Nebraska. “NPPC will offer detailed comments on the revised rule in support of affordable, achievable and sustainable policies that protect water quality.“

Comments on the proposed rule are due by Aug. 14, 2006. A copy of the rule is available on EPA’s Web site at http://www.epa.gov/npdes/regulations/cafo_revisedrule.pdf (PDF).

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