USPOULTRY files brief in NC lawsuit

by Erica Shaffer
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TUCKER, Ga. – Another poultry grower is looking to the courts to resolve permit requirements for storm-water runoff.

Rose Acre Farms submitted a motion for summary judgment after the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) said the business was required to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The US Poultry & Egg Association filed a “Friend of the Court” brief in US District Court in North Carolina supporting the motion for summary judgment and asking the court to reaffirm that any storm water that incidentally contacts dust and poultry houses via ventilation fans constitutes agricultural storm water. Agricultural storm water is exempt from NPDES permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act.

“Despite an earlier federal court decision that ruled storm water draining from the areas surrounding poultry production houses is agricultural storm water runoff, North Carolina and the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], through their support of NCDENR in this case, are trying to deny Rose Acre Farms of the exemption clearly outlined in the Clean Water Act,” said John Starkey, president of USPOULTRY. “USPOULTRY filed the ‘friend of the court’ brief to make the court aware of the magnitude and far reaching implications this case holds for every poultry and egg producer in the US.”

In October 2013, a US District Court judge in West Virginia ruled in a summary judgment that poultry dust and feathers deposited on the ground outside poultry houses that may end up in storm water runoff is not a violation of the CWA. The case involved Lois Alt, owner of a poultry grow-out business called Eight is Enough. Alt challenged an Environmental Protection Agency order to obtain a NPDES permit for storm water runoff from her farm. EPA withdrew the order, but the US District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia ruled the case should go forward to clarify whether discharge permits are required for “ordinary precipitation runoff from a typical farmyard.”
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