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EPA air quality agreement with animal feeding operations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached an agreement to study air emissions from livestock and poultry operations. The primary goals of the Air Quality Compliance Agreement are:

The so-called "consent agreement" spells out in detail how farmers, including pork producers, can participate. The Air Emissions study is needed to establish scientifically valid standards to determine Clean Air Act regulatory thresholds in animal agriculture. Without these on-farm measurements, federal and state agencies would be forced to rely upon best-estimate guidelines that may not be accurate, or may have been adjusted from other species data.

Livestock and poultry producers have until May 1 st to sign up their farms for the program. By signing up, producers admit to no wrong doing, pay a "penalty" to the EPA based on farm size, and become a candidate for possible selection to participate in the 2-year air emissions study. Signing up offers legal protections from the Clean Air Act, CERCLA, and EPCRA for past emissions, with the understanding that future compliance will be required once new policy has been established (estimated time schedule for new EPA policy is June 2009). Only those farms that have signed the agreement will be protected for past violations. Check-off funds from the National Pork Board have been designated to provide funding for the pork part of the air emissions study.

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