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E-M:/ EPA to announce US farm manure, clean water rule (fwd)

Enviro-Mich message from Lowell Prag <lprag@mail.msen.com>

This should be of general interst:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 27 Nov 2002 09:46:14 -0800
From: "McNelly, Patrick" <PMCNELLY@OCSD.COM>
Reply-To: compost@compostingcouncil.org
To: compost@compostingcouncil.org
Subject: [USCC] EPA to announce US farm manure, clean water rule

WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency said it would announce on Dec. 16 final rules to regulate the vast amounts of manure produced by large U.S. livestock farms, one of the nation's leading causes of water pollution. 

The EPA's final rules will detail how farms with hundreds or thousands of hogs, cattle and poultry - known in the industry as concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs - must control manure run-off and meet federal clean water requirements. 

The final rule was expected to have a significant impact on the U.S. livestock industry, covering about 12,000 farms. Currently, the EPA water rules apply to only about 2,500 farms, according to industry estimates. 

"We anticipate there will be a large number of swine operations that are CAFOs right now that don't necessarily have a permit, but will have to get one," said a National Pork Producers Council expert, who asked not to be identified. 

Many farm groups have criticized the proposed rules as costly and overstepping the bounds of EPA authority. The agency was flooded with some 12,000 comments on its proposed rule, many from disgruntled farmers. 

"We have a court order in the EPA that requires us to have a final water pollution rule in place for the largest animal feeding operations by Dec. 15," Geoffrey Grubbs, head of EPA's Water Office, told reporters. "And one nice thing about that is I know that (on) Dec. 16, it will be over." 

Because December 15 falls on a Sunday, an EPA spokeswoman said the agency would announce its final rules on December 16. 


The EPA issued a proposed rule in January 2001, less than two weeks before the Clinton administration left office, that would require more livestock farms to obtain a federal permit and comply with federal Clean Water Act discharge requirements. 

Grubbs declined to detail what changes were made to the proposed rule by the Bush administration. 

U.S. environmental groups have long complained that so-called factory farms produce vast amounts of manure that gets washed into local streams, rivers and other sources of drinking water. 

The industry produces about 220 billion gallons of manure annually, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. 

Farm groups and environmentalists said one of the biggest concerns was how the rules would regulate the disposal of manure. Current EPA regulations only mandate how farms must store and treat animal waste. 

Strict new rules on disposing of mountains of manure could prove costly for the industry. The estimated cost of compliance with the clean water rules proposed by the EPA last year ranges as high as $1.2 million for a large cattle producer, according to government estimates. 

Individual hog farmers could face costs of up to $115,000 while poultry farmers may have to pay $31,600 to invest in manure disposal technology and storage. 

"We've really come a long way, I think, in understanding what the economic conditions tends to be and how much can anybody impose by way of a new rule and still keep people in business producing the food and fiber this country needs," Grubbs said. "I do think the environmental problem ... is solvable." 

To help subsidize the extra costs for farmers, Congress boosted conservation funding for livestock operations under the new U.S. farm law passed earlier this year. 

Funding for USDA's Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, was increased to $900 million a year, up from $200 million previously. All livestock operations are eligible but there is a $450,000 limit on benefits through 2007. 

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