Under EPCRA, livestock farmers would be required to estimate the emissions of certain gases.

February 27, 2024

2 Min Read
National Pork Board

The National Pork Producers Council led a coalition of 48 state and national agricultural organizations in submitting comments on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to require livestock and poultry farmers to report routine air emissions from animal waste. EPA is attempting to reinstate the reporting requirements under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act.

EPCRA requires certain entities to notify state and local authorities about accidental spills and releases of hazardous materials and chemicals. Initially, EPA exempted agricultural producers from reporting routine farm emissions from the natural breakdown of animal manure, but in 2017 a federal Appeals court rejected the regulatory exemption. NPPC, along with partners in animal agriculture, immediately sought relief from Congress, which passed the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act of 2018. The FARM Act once again exempted reporting of emissions. However, following EPA’s implementation, activist groups filed suit against EPA, which agreed to again examine the impact of routine farm emissions and whether new rules are necessary.

“There is no legitimate reason for requiring [farmers] to report to state and local emergency response authorities estimates of the amount of air emissions from their animals’ manure,” the agricultural organizations said in their comments.

NPPC and other agricultural groups repeatedly have cited EPA’s own reasoning for exempting agriculture from the reporting requirements, noting that while farm emissions might exceed thresholds that would trigger responses under the reporting law, such responses would be “unnecessary, impractical and unlikely.” Agitating a manure pit, for example, could result in the release of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, but the gases would dissipate quickly, and it would not constitute an emergency requiring the attention of first responders.

Under EPCRA, livestock farmers would be required to estimate the emissions of certain gases. However, EPA has yet to finalize reliable, scientifically sound estimating methodologies that accurately represent the air emissions from animal manure at modern livestock farms using best management practices. Additionally, farmers could be subject to liabilities resulting from differing interpretations of the information called for in the reports, exposing them to potential civil penalties or litigation.

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