WASHINGTON, D.C., October 11, 2012 – A U.S. District Court has ruled that the American Farm Bureau Federation has a right to join in a lawsuit over the breadth of the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate poultry and livestock farms under the Clean Water Act, according to an AFBF press release. In July, the group asked the Court for the Northern District of West Virginia for permission to join on the side of poultry grower and state resident Lois Alt, who brought suit to challenge an EPA order demanding that she obtain a CWA discharge permit for stormwater runoff from her farmyard. The West Virginia Farm Bureau has also joined the lawsuit. EPA aggressively opposed the Farm Bureaus’ participation.
“The court clearly recognizes the importance of this case for thousands of other livestock and poultry farmers threatened by EPA’s unlawful restriction of the agricultural stormwater exemption,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said in the press release.
Alt sued EPA in June after the agency ordered her to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System discharge permit. EPA’s order threatens Alt with $37,500 in fines for each time stormwater comes into contact with dust, feathers or dander on the ground outside of her poultry houses, or small amounts of manure that may be present in the farmyard as a result of normal poultry farming operations. EPA also seeks separate fines if Alt fails to apply for an NPDES permit..
According to Judge John Preston Bailey, AFBF and WVFB demonstrated that a ruling upholding EPA’s order would harm numerous other farmers and ranchers. Under EPA’s reasoning, Bailey stated, “virtually every large [CAFO] would likely have an obligation to obtain a federally mandated permit if it rains enough in their area to wash manure and dust particles off their land and eventually into a jurisdictional water.”