The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is calling on the EPA to pull it proposed CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) Reporting Rule.
The proposed rule requires all cattle operations meeting the regulatory definition of a CAFO to report a long list of information about their operations to EPA, including the exact location of the production area.
NCBA deputy environmental counsel Ashley Lyon says the rule is not only a serious overreach of EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act, it could also put the nation’s food system at risk.
“This information will be uploaded to EPA’s web site on an easily-searchable database—and that is accessible across the globe,” Lyon says.
Which raises numerous concerns, Lyon says. “One of which is harassment by environmentalist extremist groups here in the states—as well as terrorist attacks from foreign and domestic entities.”
A representative of EPA who attended NCBA’s annual meeting in Nashville last week—Ellen Gilinksy—told the group that the agency understands the industry’s biosecurity and privacy concerns, and is open to ideas on how to improve the proposal.
Lyon said she was encouraged by the comments made by Gilinsky. But she says the way the reporting rule was developed by EPA—through a consent decree or settlement agreement with environmental groups—is also a big concern.
“We call those sweetheart agreements that require the agency then to promulgate rules that they may not even have the authority to do under the law,” she says.
“That’s obviously extremely concerning and we only see the agency engaging in more of those agreements and promulgating more rules—where the industry is not at the table—and that are going to be economically devastating to the cattle industry and agriculture as a whole.”
According to the EPA, the final CAFO reporting rule will be released in mid-July.