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EPA deal with environmentalists will hurt farmers


June 3, 2010
By National Pork Producers Council

NEWS HIGHLIGHT

EPA deal with environmentalists will hurt farmers

The National Pork Producers Council has expressed deep frustration and
anger over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s continuing efforts to
develop costly agricultural regulations that provide few if any additional
environmental benefits.



June 1, 2010, Washington,
D.C. – The National Pork Producers Council has expressed deep frustration and
anger over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s continuing efforts to
develop costly agricultural regulations that provide few if any additional
environmental benefits.

Recently, the EPA reached
a settlement with several environmental groups on a lawsuit that challenges
Clean Water Act permitting regulations for concentrated animal feeding
operations (CAFOs). The NPPC is part of that ongoing litigation. The CAFO Rule,
which was issued Oct. 31, 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 penalized
– 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 May
    28, 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,” 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.”


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