EPA rule exempts farms from emissions reporting

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its rule exempting livestock farmers from reporting to state and local authorities the routine emissions from their farms.

This eliminates the need for livestock farmers to estimate and report to the federal government emissions from the natural breakdown of manure.

National Pork Producers Council NPPC President David Herring praised the final rule and said the original proposal “unnecessary and impractical for farmers.”

Background

The Fair Agricultural Reporting Method, or FARM Act, fixed a problem created in April 2017 when a U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a 2008 EPA rule that exempted farmers from reporting routine farm emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Commonly known as the “Superfund Law,” CERCLA is used primarily to clean hazardous waste sites but also includes a mandatory federal reporting component.

The appeals court ruling would have forced tens of thousands of livestock farmers to “guesstimate” and report the emissions from manure on their farms to the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Response Center and subjected them to citizen lawsuits from activist groups, Herring claimed.

EPA’s new rule exempts farmers from having to make reports to state and local first responders under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) — an adjunct to CERCLA — that they have “hazardous” emissions on their farms.

Additionally, the U.S. pork industry has already changed its industry best practices through the Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) program to encourage producers to engage with local first responders and create open lines of communication.

“The pork industry wants regulations that are practical and effective but applying CERCLA and EPCRA to livestock farms is neither,” Herring said.

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