EPA Deal with Environmentalists will Hurt Farmers

US - The National Pork Producers Council yesterday expressed deep frustration and anger over the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) continuing efforts to develop costly agricultural regulations that provide few if any additional environmental benefits.
calendar icon 28 May 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

EPA Tuesday reached a settlement with several environmental groups on a lawsuit that challenges Clean Water Act permitting regulations for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). NPPC is part of that ongoing litigation. The CAFO Rule, which was issued 31 October 2008, sets a zero-discharge standard for manure from CAFOs getting into waterways and imposes penalties – $37,500 a day – on operations that do have discharges.

Prior to the 2008 rule, CAFOs were less likely to be held liable for discharges, and land application of manure for crop production was unregulated under the Clean Water Act. While the CAFO Rule brought large livestock operations fully under the Clean Water Act, it allows them to operate without a federal permit – and not be penalised – as long as they do not have discharges. (This approach was strongly affirmed in 2005 by a federal appeals court.)

“With this one-sided settlement, EPA yanked the rug out from under America’s livestock farmers,” said Michael Formica, NPPC’s chief environmental counsel. “NPPC is looking at all appropriate legal responses to EPA’s disappointing course of action.”

In the settlement deal, EPA agreed to:

  • Issue guidance by 28 May 2010, for what constitutes a “proposal to discharge” by a CAFO. Operations presumed to be discharging would need to get permits.
  • Issue regulations requiring all CAFOs – even if there is no evidence they are not properly managing their manure – to submit the kind of detailed information that would normally be included in a Clean Water Act CAFO permit.
  • Make available to the public all the information that CAFOs are required to submit.

“This agreement sets the stage for new Clean Water Act permitting measures that will add to producers’ costs, drive more farmers out of business, increase concentration in livestock production to comply and hurt rural economies,” said Randy Spronk, a Minnesota pork producer who heads NPPC’s environmental committee. “And the measures will do nothing really to improve water quality.

“Additionally, the settlement was negotiated in private and without consultation or input from the regulated farming community,” Mr Spronk said. “This flies in the face of the Obama administration’s pledges to operate government more transparently. And, in this economy, the administration should be enacting measures that create jobs, not implementing regulations that put American farmers out of business.”

© 2000 - 2023 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.