February 19, 2018
US Senate bill to exempt farms from reporting gas emissions from manure
The US' pork and poultry sectors welcomed the filing of a Senate bill seeking to exempt farmers from reporting to the US Coast Guard natural emissions of ammonia from the natural breakdown of manure on their farms.
According to the US Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the proposed Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act would fix a problem created last April when the US Court of Appeals rejected a 2008 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that exempted farmers from reporting routine farm emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).
Poultry groups, on the other hand, described the bill as a "significant breakthrough legislation restoring CERCLA reporting to its intended purpose, a united legislative effort that has been nearly 15 years in the making".
"We appreciate their (senators') swift action on behalf of America's turkey, chicken and egg farmers", said the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation, US Poultry & Egg Association and United Egg Producers in a joint statement.
More commonly known as the Superfund Law, CERCLA is used primarily to clean hazardous waste sites. It also includes a mandatory federal reporting component.
The appeals court ruling would have forced more than 100,000 livestock farmers to "guesstimate" and report the emissions from manure on their farms to the Coast Guard's National Response Centre (NRC).
It also subjected them to "abusive and harassing citizen suits from activist groups such as the Humane Society of the United States", the NPPC said.
'Not a hazardous emergency'
NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Illinois, claimed that routine emissions from hog manure do not constitute a "hazardous" emergency that requires the Coast Guard to activate a national cleanup response.
Maschhoff said the EPA exempted farms from CERCLA reporting "because it knew responses would be unnecessary and impractical", adding that the court "created a problem where none existed".
The poultry groups said the bill was the senators' "quick response" in the face of an upcoming May 1 federal court deadline that would trigger the massive reporting mandate on farmers, requiring compliance in as little as 24 hours after the final court order is issued.
The Act's principal authors are Sens. Deb Fischer, Joe Donnelly, John Barrasso (Environment and Public Works committee chairman) and Tom Carper.
The poultry groups also expressed their hope that the House of Representatives will introduce its version of the FARM Act soon.
Maschhoff called on Congress to pass the FARM Act, saying that while the pork industry was prepared to comply with the reporting mandate, the EPA, the Coast Guard and state and local emergency response authorities "said they didn't want or need the information, which could have interfered with their legitimate emergency functions". Rick Alberto