Legislation Could Except Farmers From Emission Rules

Livestock producers could be off the hook for a judicial ruling on EPA rules. Legislation in the Senate could exempt farmers from reporting animal waste air emissions.

Farmers were concerned because that could open them up to lawsuits from neighbors and environmental groups.

The bipartisan, Fair Agriculture Reporting Method (FARM) Act was introduced by Republican Senator Deb Fischer from Nebraska and Democrat Senator Joe Donnelly from Indiana.

The FARM Act will maintain the exemption for certain federally registered pesticides but exempt air emissions from animal waste on a farm from reporting requirements. The senators say it provides agriculture producers with greater certainty by reinstating the status quo producers have been operating under since EPA’s 2008 final rule.

The legislation exemptions would be for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

The EPA in 2008 ruled farmers were already exempt, but in April, a federal appeals court ruled they did not have that authority. Under that, if an operation emits more than 100 pounds of air pollutants in 24 hours a farmer would have to comply and report. But there was no clarity or guidance announced on how to know if that limit is reached by the EPA.