All pork producers are ready and willing to comply with new federal water-quality regulations regardless of whether they are required to obtain federal discharge permits, National Pork Producers Council officials testified to a congressional subcommittee looking into agriculture’s effects on water quality.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has overhauled the federal Clean Water Act to cover Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and will issue a rule this summer requiring them to get CWA discharge permits if they exceed a certain size. Pork operations of any size will be required to get permits if they plan to discharge.
The CAFO rule will include fines of up to $32,500 a day on producers who do not keep animal manure out of surface waterways or who fail to use specified agronomic and conservation practices when applying manure to cropland they control. The requirements and penalties can be imposed on producers if they discharge manure to water, even if they do not have a CWA permit.
“Pork producers take these new requirements with the utmost seriousness,” says Doug Wolf, NPPC Environment Committee member
The new federal rule is being imposed despite the fact that the pork industry has had very few manure releases, points out NPPC. A check of the top eight pork-producing states, which have their own water-quality permitting programs, shows that of the 15,460 regulated pork-production sites, less than 1 percent of them had a manure release to any water, including surface water without a connection to a “water of the United States” – the criteria for needing a CWA permit.
“Pork producers are proud of this record,” Wolf says. “It shows just how much of a commitment we have made since the late 1990s to design and build our farms to protect water quality and how well we are managing them. We have every intention of continuing this high level of ‘zero-discharge’ performance.”
Source: National Pork Producers Council