WASHINGTON – All pork producers are ready and willing to comply with new federal water-quality regulations regardless of whether they are required to obtain federal discharge permits, the National Pork Producers Council said in testimony submitted to a congressional subcommittee looking into agriculture’s effects on water quality.
Overhaul. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has overhauled the federal Clean Water Act to cover Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and will issue a rule this summer requiring them to get Clean Water Act discharge permits if they are over a certain size.
Pork operations of any size will be required to get permits if they plan to discharge.
The Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations rule will include fines of up to $32,500 a day on producers who do not keep animal manure out of surface waterways or who fail to use specified agronomic and conservation practices when applying manure to cropland they control.
The requirements and penalties can be imposed on producers if they discharge manure to water, even if they do not have a permit.
Compliance. “Pork producers take these new requirements with the utmost seriousness,” said National Pork Producers Council Environment Committee member Doug Wolf, a producer from Lancaster, Wis.
“And we can and will comply.”
The council submitted written testimony to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s water subcommittee. The new federal rule is being imposed even though the pork industry has had very few manure releases.
A check of the top eight pork-producing states, which have their own water-quality permitting programs, shows that of the 15,460 regulated pork-production sites, less than 1 percent of them had a manure release to any water, including surface water without a connection to “water of the United States” – the criteria for needing a permit.
Proud. “Pork producers are proud of this record,” Wolf said.
“It shows just how much of a commitment we have made since the late 1990s to design and build our farms to protect water quality and how well we are managing them. We have every intention of continuing this high level of ‘zero-discharge’ performance.”
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