WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), joined with Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Tom Carper (D-DE) to introduce the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act.
The FARM Act would protect Wyoming’s ranchers, farmers, and livestock markets from burdensome Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reporting requirements for animal waste emissions. These requirements were not intended to affect animal agriculture and instead were meant to address dangerous industrial pollution, chemical plant explosions, and the release of hazardous materials into the environment.
“Ranchers and farmers in Wyoming, and across the country, need clarity from Washington,” said Barrasso. “The FARM Act is a commonsense bill to protect our farmers and ranchers from burdensome and unnecessary regulations. These reporting requirements were never intended to be applied to agricultural operations. Even the Obama administration agreed that air emissions from farms shouldn’t be regulated as pollution.”
The FARM Act would:
- Maintain the exemption for certain federally registered pesticides from reporting requirements within the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA);
- Exempt air emissions from animal waste on a farm from reporting requirements under CERCLA; and
- Provide agriculture producers with greater certainty by reinstating the status quo producers have been operating under since EPA’s 2008 final rule.
On February 7, 2018, Wyoming’s Niels Hansen, secretary and treasurer of the Public Lands Council and member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, testified at an EPW Committee hearing on “the Impact of Federal Environmental Regulations and Policies on American Farming and Ranching Communities.” Hansen told the committee about the effects that one-size-fits-all environmental regulations have on Wyoming’s farmers and ranchers, and their ability to do their jobs.
CERCLA requires entities to notify authorities when large quantities of hazardous materials are released. In 2008, the EPA published a final rule exempting most livestock operations from the law’s reporting requirements.
In April 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled EPA did not have the authority to create this exemption for agriculture, creating confusion and uncertainty for America’s agricultural producers.