U.S. poultry and egg producers praised Congress for passing legislation that provides farmers relief from federal emergency response laws that were never intended to apply to routine, non-emergency farming and ranching activities. Included in the omnibus government spending packaging approved by Congress was the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act. The legislation reverses a federal circuit court ruling from last year and limits the circumstances in which farms would need to report air emissions from poultry and livestock operations under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). A May 1 federal court deadline was set to impose the reporting mandate on an estimated quarter-million farmers and ranchers. The burden of reporting emissions from the natural breakdown of manure has been removed by Congress including the FARM Act in the omnibus.
The National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, and United Egg Producers appreciate this bipartisan effort from both houses of Congress. A week earlier, the House of Representatives had submitted a companion to the FARM legislation – the Agricultural Certainty for Reporting Emissions (ACRE) Act. Members of Congress who led the effort to pass the legislation included Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Reps. Billy Long (R-MO) and Jim Costa (D-CA). Among the numerous original supporters of the measure were the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees, Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Reps. Mike Conway (R-TX) and Ranking Member Colin Peterson (D-MN).
“All told, an additional 36 Senators and 90 Representatives ultimately co-sponsored the bills and stood up for the nation’s poultry and egg producers and processors,” said the poultry groups in a joint statement. “This united technical and legislative effort has been nearly 15 years in the making, and it is one of the most visible and essential demonstrations of support for U.S. farmers. Our deep appreciation for this action and bi-partisan cooperation cannot be overstated.”
The EPA had for 10-years exempted low-level continuous emissions of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, a policy started by the Bush Administration and continued with the full support of the Obama Administration. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down the rule based on the court’s reading of the law, thus necessitating the need for decisive legislative action.
U.S. poultry and egg producers welcomed the President signing the bill into law.