DPI Applauds New Legislation Clarifying Scope of CERCLA

Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. (DPI) applauds the 20 United States senators who introduced a bill negating the need for a pending federal court requirement that farmers raising chickens must calculate and report to federal emergency response authorities the natural emission of ammonia from their poultry houses. Chicken growers are concerned about how to measure the emissions, how to report them to the federal government, and the usefulness of the information that is to be reported.

Introduced by Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons of Delaware, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, and 17 other senators, the FARM Act, "The Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act," restores the on-farm exemption for emissions from manure produced in animal agriculture. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) requires entities releasing certain substances to notify the federal government. When the law was enacted, the Environmental Protection Agency did not believe that the release of low levels of ammonia from animal agriculture was included in the intent of the law. However, a lawsuit was filed by several environmental groups saying animal agriculture should not be excluded, and in April 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of that interpretation of Congress's legislative intent. The legislation now introduced makes it clear Congress intends to exempt animal agriculture from emissions reporting regulations that are more appropriate for factories and ships.

Senators have been quick to respond in the face of an upcoming May 1 federal court deadline that would impose the reporting mandate on farmers.

"Passing this bill would provide much-needed clarity for chicken growers, who have been struggling to keep up with changing deadlines and uncertain guidance about their CERCLA compliance requirements," said Bill Satterfield, DPI's executive director. "We are hopeful that its Senate passage, and the introduction and passage of companion legislation in the House of Representatives, will lead to legislation delivered to the White House before May 1."

The National Turkey Federation, National Chicken Council, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, and United Egg Producers also praised the Senate legislation, calling it "breakthrough legislation restoring CERCLA reporting to its intended purpose and a united legislative effort that has been nearly 15 years in the making."

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