Pork Industry Files Comments On Proposed CAFO Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Pork Producers Council yesterday filed comments on the federal Clean Water Act rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency that would regulate concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
calendar icon 31 August 2006
clock icon 3 minute read

“EPA has proposed a reasonable final CAFO rule, which will provide an effective regulatory program that addresses clean water issues while keeping regulatory costs for producers low,“ said Randy Spronk, chairman of NPPC’s Environment Committee and a hog producer from Minnesota. “The pork industry always has sought sensible regulations that are achievable, affordable and sustainable. We believe EPA has largely met those criteria.“

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 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 ordered EPA to revise the 2003 rule.

The court also confirmed a provision in the 2003 rule that classified “discharges“ from manure that is “appropriately“ applied to land as agricultural stormwater and therefore not subject to the Clean Water Act’s mandatory permitting requirements. Under the revised rule, only CAFOs that discharge must obtain NPDES permits and submit NMPs.

“The research reported in our comments shows that less than 1 percent of swine CAFOs discharge in any year,“ Spronk said, “so EPA’s decision to not require permits of CAFOs that do not discharge is justified.“

NPPC does have some significant concerns with the proposed rule, including the definition of the term “propose to discharge“ and possible significant delays in CAFOs obtaining NPDES permits or getting approval for changes to their NMPs because of lengthy EPA reviews and public participation requirements. The organization also expressed concern about the July 31, 2007, permit deadline for covered CAFOs, saying it provides too little time for states to amend their permit regulations. NPPC asked that EPA give states a year to conform their programs to the final CAFO rule and a year after that for CAFOs to submit permit applications and NMPs.

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