Farmers do not need to report their air emissions from animal waste

2018 Omnibus spending bill’s “Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act” was signed into law on March 23rd, 2018.

On March 23rd, 2018, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (better known as the Omnibus Bill), was signed into law. The Omnibus Bill, specifically Title XI called the “Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act” or “FARM Act,” exempts livestock farms from reporting, “air emissions from animal waste at a farm,” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). According to the  United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website, CERCLA and EPCRA Reporting Requirements for Air Releases of Hazardous Substances from Animal Waste at Farms, this ruling means that farms will continue to be exempt from the reporting requirements of CERCLA when the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issues its mandate vacating the 2008 final rule (expected as soon as May 1, 2018).

Previously, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the final rule (published December 18th, 2008) on April 11th, 2017. The final rule exempted CERCLA reporting requirements for farms that released hazardous substances (i.e. ammonia and hydrogen sulfide) from livestock manure above the threshold level of 100 pounds within a 24-hour period. The final rule also exempted farms with fewer animals than large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) from reporting releases under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The final rule was struck down due to a number of citizen groups that challenged its efficacy and as a result, livestock farms were going to be required to report these air emissions starting January 22nd, 2018. On February 1st, 2018, EPA motioned to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to further stay issuance of the mandate until May 1st, 2018, giving livestock farms more time to prepare for the reporting requirements.

Permitted livestock farms (Confined Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs) through Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) are still required to report air emissions from animal waste to local and state agencies through EPCRA. More guidance on this can be found on MDEQ’s website for CAFOs.  

Many livestock producers raised concerns with these reporting requirements due to the lack of an acceptable air emission estimating method or tool. Another concern was that by standardizing air emissions from animal waste based solely on the number and type of animal, the reporting would not accurately account for best management practices and factors, such as land space, that differ between farms.

Michigan State University Extension recognizes that the Omnibus Bill’s FARM Act comes as a relief to many livestock farms throughout the country as the reporting of air emissions from animal waste is no longer required.

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