Pork producers lead freedom to farm defense

If successful, lawsuit would upend livestock environmental regulations around the country.

June 17, 2024

2 Min Read
National Pork Board

The National Pork Producers Council led livestock and farm groups in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to fight back against activist attacks on pork producers’ fundamental due process rights and the regulatory foundation of modern livestock production.

Earlier this year, a large number of national and state activist groups, led by Food & Water Watch (including Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network) filed a lawsuit before the court against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Biden Administration.

These groups seek fundamental changes to EPA’s concentrated animal feeding operation rules, including that the law should presume pig and other livestock farmers are discharging pollutants into Waters of the United States in violation of the Clean Water Act. They have asked the court to remove application of the long established and congressionally developed exemption for agricultural stormwater from animal feeding operations and instead require all CAFOs to either obtain Clean Water Act permits or provide evidence that they are not discharging into a WOTUS.

If successful, this lawsuit would upend livestock environmental regulations around the country, causing millions of dollars of lawsuits, fines and challenges — setting the industry back decades.

NPPC, along with the American Farm Bureau Federation, the U.S. Poultry and Egg Federation, and the United Egg Producers, have intervened in the litigation in defense of the Biden Administration and the long-standing regulations that have shaped modern pig farming.

The farm groups filed their opening brief defending EPA, its longstanding CAFO rules, and the important victories that NPPC secured before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in 2005 and before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2010 to defend the integrity of modern pig farming.

NPPC pointed out the industry has had decades of success in addressing environmental challenges. "Pork producers are leaders in maximizing the efficient use of valuable manure resources to continuously improve on-farm performance and sustainability.

"Pork producers have a long, successful working relationship with federal, state and local regulators to ensure their farms are constructed and maintained as zero-discharge operations. Major changes to long-standing federal laws can only come from congressional action, and it is inappropriate for these activist groups to seek to rewrite federal law through the courts when Congress has consistently rejected their outlandish demands."

In the latest Capital Update, NPPC noted, "This baseless lawsuit, filed by extreme activists, seeks to upend livestock production. By attacking core notions of due process and fundamental civil rights, these activists and their financial backers in national class-action law firms seek to put pork producers around the country at risk of the same types of unfounded predatory lawsuits that previously caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to livestock farmers just a few years ago."

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