US Senate introduces bill to clarify reporting rules

A bipartisan bill introduced recently in the U.S. Senate would allow farms, ranches and other ag operations to avoid reporting livestock manure data under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Kevin Kester thanked the 10 Republican and 10 Democratic co-sponsors for moving to exempt livestock producers from rules originally intended only to regulate industrial sources.

“There’s not a lot of truly bipartisan legislation in Washington these days, but one thing that pretty much everybody can agree on is that a responsibly run cattle ranch isn’t a toxic Superfund site,” said Kester.

The Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule in 2008 clarifying farms and ranches were exempt from CERCLA reporting. Environmental advocacy groups sued EPA in 2009 to force compliance by all of agriculture. In April 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court vacated EPA’s 2008 exemption, putting nearly 200,000 farms and ranches under regulation contained in CERCLA and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. The reporting requirements would have gone into effect January 22, 2018, but the court delayed implementation until May 1, giving Congress time to act.

NCBA has launched a public relations campaign and is carrying out lobbying efforts to convince Congress the issue needs to be addressed.