The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) has expressed support for new bipartisan legislation introduced in the House of Representatives that clarifies the exemption of dairy farms and other livestock producers from being subject to the Resource Conversation and Recovery Act (RCRA). RCRA was enacted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1976 to set forth a framework for the management, generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste, and is specifically focused on solid waste held in landfills and other underground storage locations.
The Farm Regulatory Certainty Act (H.R. 5685), sponsored by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), emphasizes that the RCRA statute is not intended to regulate agricultural operations like dairy farms, that that it has been used to inappropriately target agriculture, specifically dairy and livestock producers, even if they have demonstrated that they have been following approved plans for using manure as a fertilizer. H.R. 5685 will also protect farmers from citizen suits while they undergo efforts to comply with federal orders.
The legislation comes in response to a federal court ruling last year in lawsuits brought against several dairies in Washington state. The litigation claimed that farms had inappropriately handled and stored animal manure under the RCRA law, regardless of the fact that RCRA was not intended to focus on farming practices, or the management of livestock manure.
“This legislation would help end the confusion among farmers about environmental regulations, especially those who practice responsible waste management,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “The RCRA law was not intended to govern farms, and Congress needs to enact this bipartisan legislation to reinforce that point.”
NMPF has been vocal in their support for the use of safe and efficient environmental practices, such as anaerobic digesters and nutrient recovery, to help dairy operations remain stewards of a healthy ecosystem.