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EPA Denies CAFO Petitions from Environmental Groups

Brian GermanDairy & Livestock, Dairy and Livestock, Industry

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rejected petitions that sought stricter regulations for confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Environmental groups had initially sent the CAFO petitions back in 2017 and 2022. Several industry groups, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and National Pork Producers Council, supported the EPA’s decision.

CAFO Petitions

“NCBA appreciates the EPA recognizing that America’s farmers and ranchers are committed to ensuring clean water and investing in a sustainable future,” said NCBA Chief Counsel Mary-Thomas Hart. “By rejecting these two petitions that sought to directly attack animal agriculture, the EPA is protecting cattle producers from frivolous distractions and allowing them to return to the important job of stewarding our natural resources and feeding the nation.”

In a letter responding to the 2017 petition, EPA acknowledged certain concerns related to water pollutants from CAFOs. The EPA said the agency would be developing a subcommittee to gather feedback from stakeholders in relation to the issues raised by the CAFO petitions. The Animal Agriculture and Water Quality subcommittee is expected to be formed sometime in 2024. EPA will also be further evaluating current CAFO rules, including a study of the CAFO Effluent Limitations and Guidelines.

“America’s farmers are committed to growing safe and affordable food while protecting the resources they’re entrusted with. AFBF appreciates EPA for recognizing those efforts by rejecting attempts to unfairly target farmers who take care of herds and ultimately help meet America’s nutritional needs,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a news release. “As EPA moves forward with plans to study the issue further, we urge the agency to carefully consider the benefits animal feeding operations provide in America’s sustainability efforts.”

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West