Producers react to EPA's withdrawal of CAFO reporting rule

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, July 16, 2012- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew its proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) Reporting Rule late last week. The proposed rule would have required large livestock and poultry farmers to report information about their operations.

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“EPA resides in Washington, D.C., and seldom gets the opportunity to hear directly from the providers of food for this country,” said National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) President J.D. Alexander. “It is paramount that we continue being engaged in the regulatory process. This recent announcement by EPA proves that we can make a difference.”

The information required under the proposed rule included facility facts, such as contact information, location of a CAFO's production area, permit status, the number and type of animals confined and the number of acres available for land application of manure.

EPA's 2008 CAFO rule, rejected in a 2010 settlement agreement, required that large livestock operations that propose to or that might discharge into waterways obtain Clean Water Act (CWA) permits. On a National Pork Producers Council's (NPPC) lawsuit, a federal court ruled that the CWA requires permits only for operations actually discharging. According to the NPPC, the CAFO Reporting Rule the EPA withdrew last week stemmed from the settlement agreement. 

“As we have consistently stated, the proposed rule was the result of a sweetheart settlement between EPA and environmentalists that would have provided no public health protections,” said NPPC President R.C. Hunt. “It would have been a duplicative and burdensome paperwork exercise for producers and clearly was an effort to undermine court decisions that said producers who don't discharge into waterways don't need a CWA permit.”

EPA stated the information required from producers in the proposed CWA Section 308 CAFO Reporting Rule would be placed on the agency's website in an easily searchable database, where the NCBA said it feared extremists could access the information with the intent to do harm to cattle operations or the nation's food system. Any non-compliance with the proposed rule would have been a violation of the CWA, which would have resulted in fines of up to $37,500 per day, stated NCBA.

“This really showcases the importance of cattlemen and women becoming engaged in the regulatory process and making sure their concerns are heard,” said NCBA President J.D. Alexander. “We encourage the agency to redirect its focus to working with states and other partners to attain already publicly available information that would allow them to work toward their goal of improved water quality. This can be done in a way that does not put our food system at increased risk.”

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