Hoeven Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Farmers and Ranchers from EPA Emissions Rule

Senator Urged EPA Administrator to Provide Permanent Solution for Reporting Requirements

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven this week cosponsored the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) that would protect farmers, ranchers and livestock markets from burdensome Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reporting requirements for animal waste emissions. The legislation follows a letter Hoeven sent to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, urging him to find a permanent solution to the agency’s emissions regulations and provide certainty for agriculture producers.

“By imposing these rules on agriculture producers, the courts have introduced uncertainty to livestock operations across the country,” Hoeven said. “That makes it more difficult for farmers and ranchers to maintain their operations and means higher costs for both producers and consumers. Our bipartisan bill would restore the exemption for agriculture and prevent these rules from negatively impacting our producers.”

Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Emergency Response and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), the release of hazardous substances into the air over certain thresholds must meet reporting requirements. These requirements were not intended to affect animal agriculture and instead were meant to address dangerous industrial pollution, chemical plant explosions and the release of hazardous materials into the environment. 

Until recently, EPA had provided exemptions to these rules for agriculture producers, except for confined animal feeding operations, as there is no accepted method for accurately measuring the release of substances like hydrogen sulfide and ammonia from animal waste in a pasture. Imposing the regulations on farmers and ranchers would create uncertainty and increase costs.

The courts ruled last year that the agency did not have the authority to grant the exemption and agriculture producers must begin reporting emissions. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit granted the EPA’s request to delay emission reporting regulations for livestock producers until at least May 1, 2018. The legislation introduced this week would reinstate the EPA’s exemption, which producers have operated under since 2008.