Emissions Rules Confuse Dairy Farmers

by | Feb 2, 2009

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dairy-industry.jpgLivestock and dairy farmers are confused as to whether or not they have to report harmful emissions from their operations, reports the Capital Press.

The Environmental Protection Agency was originally expected to make all producers report emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, a federal law that regulates hazardous substances.

Farmers panicked, thinking they had to get reports in by January 20th – the day President Obama was sworn into office. Obama, however, ordered the suspension and review of pending federal regulations and those that became effective after he stepped into office.

Confusion mounted when the EPA noted that some large confined animal feeding operations will have to report emissions to their local emergency planning committees (LEPCs) and state emergency response commissions (SERCs) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.

A dairy business will have to report if it meets or exceeds any of the following threshold numbers:

  • 700 mature dairy cows
  • 1,000 veal calves
  • 1,000 cattle other than mature dairy cows or veal calves
  • 2,500 swine each weighing 55 pounds or more
  • 10,000 swine each weighing less than 55 pounds
  • 500 horses
  • 10,000 sheep or lambs
  • 55,000 turkeys
  • 30,000 to 82,000 laying hens or broilers, depending on manure system
  • 125,000 chickens, other than laying hens, with a liquid manure handling system
  • 5,000 to 30,000 ducks, depending on manure system.

They must also calculate the amount of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emitted by their operations, the EPA said. Tools to help calculate are offered by several universities, like U. of Nebraska and Iowa State.

The EPA is not planning on a widespread enforcement effort, according to Nicholas Peak, the agency’s regional CAFO coordination for the Northwest.

Over the summer the EPA warned the dairy industry that it would soon start regulating GHG emissions. Farmers began lobbying fiercely against the potential “cow tax” which would tax them for the methane that livestock emit.

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