EPA withdraws CAFO database rule

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – Industry groups claimed victory July 13 after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew a proposed rule that would have placed more reporting requirements on concentrated animal feeding operations.

The Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) Reporting Rule would have required CAFOs to submit operational information such as facility facts, contact information, production area locations, permit status, the number and type of animals confined and the acreage available for land application of manure.

“As we have consistently stated, the proposed rule was the result of a sweetheart settlement between EPA and environmentalists that would have provided no public health protections,” said R.C. Hunt, National Pork Producers Council president and a pork producer from Wilson, NC. “It would have been a duplicative and burdensome paperwork exercise for producers and clearly was an effort to undermine court decisions that said producers who don’t discharge into waterways don’t need a CWA permit.”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) argued the proposed rule could put the nation’s food supply at risk for terrorist attacks. EPA said it would put the CAFO information on the agency’s website in a searchable database, where NCBA said extremists could access the information with the intent to do harm to cattle operations or the nation’s food system. Non-compliance with the proposed rule would have been a violation of the Clean Water Act with fines of up to $37,500 per day.

“Early on, we called for EPA to pull this rule. It turns out they listened. This really showcases the importance of cattlemen and women becoming engaged in the regulatory process and making sure their concerns are heard,” said J.D. Alexander, NCBA president. “We encourage the agency to redirect its focus to working with states and other partners to attain already publicly available information that would allow them to work toward their goal of improved water quality. This can be done in a way that does not put our food system at increased risk.”

The US Poultry & Egg Association, the National Chicken Council and National Turkey Federation issued a joint statement that said the industry was pleased EPA withdrew the rule which would have burdened the industry by requiring “CAFOs to provide detailed location information and farm demographics for virtually every family farm engaged in the production of commercial poultry and egg products in the United States”.

"The poultry industry is pleased that EPA recognized the burden the proposed rule would place on the industry," the organizations said in a joint statement. Furthermore, the poultry industry appreciates that the agency heard the concerns voiced by industry during the comment period and accepted the recommendation to collect this information from existing sources."

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