Poultry groups, Farm Bureau sue EPA over program

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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TUCKER, Ga. – The American Farm Bureau Federation has been joined by the US Poultry & Egg Association and the National Chicken Council in a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to implement a program based on what the associations are calling “flawed assumptions that EPA has failed to address that could also destroy agricultural jobs in the Chesapeake Bay region.”

"The poultry industry is extremely concerned with the potential ramifications that could come from the Chesapeake Bay total maximum daily load [TMDL] recently implemented by the EPA," said John Starkey, president of USPOULTRY, and Mike Brown, president of NCC. "The poultry industry has a large presence in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. It provides thousands of jobs and contributes well over $1 billion each year to the region's economy. The viability of the industry in the watershed is essential if we hope to continue providing a safe, sustainable, wholesome, economical source of protein to the United States and the world."

The AFBF-led lawsuit focuses on an EPA program that will set limits on discharges to each of the individual watersheds within the Chesapeake Bay region.

"The poultry industry recognizes the importance of protecting the environment and has been committed to restoring the health of the bay for over 20 years," Starkey said. "This fact was acknowledged by EPA in 2007 when it stated, 'From 1985 to 2005, EPA estimated loads from developed land sources increased up to 16% while loads from wastewater disposal and agriculture decreased'."

The groups charge that in spite of the poultry industry's well-documented contribution to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, which has yet to be matched by other sources, EPA is looking for more reductions from agriculture, Starkey said.

"The implications of this demand will put pressure on thousands of family farms and put industry in the region in a position where it will be difficult to compete," he added. "This could result in the loss of thousands of jobs."

EPA has announced this program will be a model that will be implemented on a nationwide level, Brown pointed out. "If so, the assumptions and data that went into developing this model deserves the highest level of scrutiny,” he said. “Even though the poultry industry identified a number of flawed assumptions to EPA in March of 2010, they failed to address those issues prior to issuing the TMDL in December of 2010."
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