WASHINGTON — Four ag groups filed a defense against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) rules as activists attempt to overhaul the regulations.

On June 7, the National Pork Producers Council led the American Farm Bureau Federation, US Poultry & Egg Association, and United Egg Producers in an opening brief filed with the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to preserve certain rights granted to livestock producers.

Current CAFO rules exclude agricultural stormwater discharges; however, a recent lawsuit led by Food & Water Watch seeks to remove this stipulation and instead require all CAFOs to either obtain Clean Water Act permits or provide evidence that they are not discharging into Waters of the United States (WOTUS).

“If successful, this lawsuit would upend livestock environmental regulations around the country, causing millions of dollars of lawsuits, fines and challenges — setting the industry back decades,” said NPPC in its latest Capital Update.

NPPC pointed out that the CAFO rules have a longstanding history and may only be modified by congressional action.

“Pork producers have a long, successful working relationship with federal, state and local regulators to ensure their farms are constructed and maintained as zero-discharge operations,” NPPC added. “Major changes to longstanding federal laws can only come from congressional action, and it is inappropriate for these activist groups to seek to rewrite federal law through the courts when Congress has consistently rejected their outlandish demands.”