The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement to study air emissions from livestock and poultry operations. EPA worked with representatives from the National Pork Producers Council, and the egg production, dairy, and poultry industries, to finalize the consent agreement.

A key part of this agreement is a two-year benchmark study of the air emissions from livestock and poultry operations across the country. Based on the findings of the study, EPA will set national air policies, identify farm emissions thresholds, and then regulate excessive levels. Before these policy changes can happen both producers and regulators need to know how the air laws apply to farms of different size, design and location.

“EPA officials and scientists of the National Academy of Sciences agreed that sound scientific data was missing to enforce the current air laws,” says Dave Roper, chairman of NPPC’s environmental committee. “Many believe that federal and state air regulators currently lack the information needed to correctly interpret current laws for animal production. Climate, animal numbers and age, and farm management are all key variables that affect emissions.”

 A second part of this agreement provides legal protections for past emissions if participating pork producers meet all the requirements of the agreement and fully comply with the subsequent regulatory policies for applicable requirements. Only producers who sign the consent agreement with EPA and pay a nominal penalty are released from potential liability for past violations that may have occurred prior to the new air policies.

Operations can sign up farms at the same time and get protections for all of them at once. Owners also can sign up their contract farms, or contract producers can sign up by themselves. The cost can be as little as $200 per farm, but increases by the size and number of farms. According to the EPA, sign-up will be for 90 days following publication of the agreement in the Federal Register.

“All producers, whether they signed the agreement or not, will be subject to applicable permitting, emissions reporting and other compliance requirements once the data are analyzed and EPA publishes new national livestock air emissions standards,” says Roper.

Leading university scientists will conduct the EPA-approved study. Purdue University will manage the study, oversee quality assurance, financial accounting, and provide status reports to EPA, industry and the general public.

The study will gather data relative to the thresholds of the Clean Air Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

NPPC will host four regional meetings for pork producers on Thursday, Feb. 10 in Raleigh, N.C.; Friday, Feb. 11 in Indianapolis, Ind.; Tuesday Feb. 15 in Des Moines, Iowa; and Wednesday, Feb. 16 in Kansas City, Mo.

For more information on the consent agreement, go to: www.nppc.org or www.epa.gov

NPPC