The introduction of S. 2421, the Fair Agriculture Reporting Method (FARM) Act is a welcome relief to farmers and ranchers who will soon need to file unnecessary, low-level continuous air emissions reports under federal Superfund and emergency response laws.
“Congress enacted Superfund and emergency response laws to provide the tools needed to quickly respond to hazardous waste emergencies. Emissions from animals raised on farms and ranches were never intended to be swept into these reporting requirements,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “We urge Congress to act swiftly to pass this legislation before the reporting requirement overwhelms our first responders and burdens farmers and ranchers with needless reporting obligations and the risk of activist lawsuits.”
The bill, co-sponsored by Senators Fischer (R-NE) and Donnelly (D-IN), would clarify that routine emissions from farm animals and their manure are not reportable under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). CERCLA requires facilities to report releases of hazardous substances that exceed certain threshold quantities within a 24-hour period. Both the Bush and Obama administrations supported a rule exempting most farms from the need to report ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions, but activist groups successfully blocked the rule last year at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The bill is already receiving overwhelming support from both sides of the aisle, underscoring that this is not a partisan issue, but rather another example of activist groups looking to control America’s farmland.
“Congress did not intend to regulate farms as toxic Superfund sites,” Duvall said. “Farming and ranching are challenging enough without having to report, under threat of law, something that is a routine part of raising animals, but is nearly impossible to predict or measure. We are also concerned that these needless reports would effectively create a federal database of livestock farms for activist groups to target.”
EPA has provided reporting guidance to farmers and ranchers, but there is no scientific consensus on how to measure air emissions on individual farms, requiring many farmers to spend resources on consultants. In the absence of legislation, these requirements not only require reporting by larger farms, but many medium-sized farms and even pastured cow-calf farms as well as ranchers grazing on federal lands and horse farms. Farmers and ranchers need Congress to act swiftly to protect their privacy and their businesses from the financial strain and burden of these unnecessary reporting requirements on ordinary activities on their land.