WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed creating a new rule on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations as part of a settlement agreement to a lawsuit brought by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and others.

In a document titled "New EPA Commitments Related to Animal Agriculture in Chesapeake Bay Watershed", the EPA said it would assess whether revisions to its CAFO regulations under the Clean Water Act are necessary. EPA said it would publish the result of its assessment no later than June 30, 2018.

In a joint statement responding to news of the agreement, National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and US Poultry & Egg Association said verifying the efficacy of the current program rather than the creation of new regulations would help ensure that "no false assumptions are made about the potential contributions of livestock and production to pollution in the Chesapeake Bay."

"A recent study by the Univ. of Delaware not only found that the amount of nutrient runoff in the Chesapeake Bay supposedly caused by chicken litter is much less than EPA's outdated and overstated estimates, but that the concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous in the litter are far lower, too," the statement read. "The study concluded that new management practices, better growing environments, feed technology and genetics have improved efficiencies over the last 30 years.

"Everyone should have a vested interest in preserving watersheds across the country. The poultry industry is doing its part, and we're making progress. Individuals and their families who raise and process chickens on the land in these watersheds all swim in the same rivers, eat seafood out of the same bodies of water and enjoy the same waterways as do others. They want to preserve that as much as anyone."