Donnelly, Fischer Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Provide Certainty for Farmers

Bipartisan legislation would prevent farmers from being required to file needless, burdensome reports toEPA


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

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Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), along with a number of their colleagues, introduced the bipartisan Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act. The bill would protect farmers from burdensome Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emergency response reporting requirements.

Donnelly said, “Hoosier farmers who live and work on the land every day know firsthand the importance of protecting the environment. Requiring farmers to spend their time and money on reports that will go unused by EPA would be burdensome and needless. I’m proud to work with my colleagues on this bipartisan legislation to restore the common sense approach to regulating our livestock farmers.”

Fischer said, “Nebraska agriculture producers should be able to focus on doing their job of feeding the world without unnecessary distractions. These reporting requirements were designed to apply to industrial pollution and toxic chemicals, not animal waste on a farm or a ranch. Our legislation makes it clear that agriculture is exempt from these requirements and ensures producers in this country can continue to operate as they have been since 2008.”

Ted Seger, President of Indiana’s Farbest Foods and member of the National Turkey Federation, said, “On behalf of Farbest Foods and our turkey growers in Indiana, we greatly appreciate Senator Donnelly for his leadership on the FARM Act. This bill will ease the burden of Indiana turkey growers from having to report naturally-occurring low level air emissions from turkeys.”

Josh Trenary, Executive Director, Indiana Pork, said, “Indiana’s pork farmers are grateful to Sen. Donnelly for addressing the ill-conceived CERCLA air emission reporting requirements that were forced on livestock farmers. Pork farmers take their environmental stewardship seriously and will comply with regulations when they are practical and provide tangible environmental benefits. This reporting mandate wasn’t practical, and it would have provided no environmental benefit. We applaud Sen. Donnelly and others for recognizing this and for doing something about it.”

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) are laws that require entities to notify the appropriate authorities in order to organize emergency responses for the cleanup of hazardous contaminations. CERCLA primarily requires reporting to federal authorities and EPCRA primarily to state and local emergency response coordinators. In 2008, EPA stated that federal emergency responses to air emissions associated from livestock were unlikely, unforeseeable, and impractical, and the agency published a final rule exempting all livestock operations from the CERCLA’s reporting requirements and most livestock farms from EPCRA’s requirements.

In April 2017, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled EPA did not have the authority to create this exemption for agriculture, creating confusion and uncertainty for America’s ag producers. In response Donnelly and Fischer worked with the colleagues to develop bipartisan legislation that would exempt air emissions from animal waste on a farm from reporting requirements under CERCLA. TheFARM Act would provide farmers with greater certainty by reinstating the status quo for CERCLA reporting that farmers have been operating under since EPA’s 2008 final rule.

The other Senators that joined Donnelly and Fischer in introducing the bill were Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS), as well as Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Bob Casey (D-PA).

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