EPA, Congress works to exempt farmers from PFAS liability

The Environmental Protection Agency is reaffirming its focus that regulating forever chemicals will fall on manufacturers and users that produce related products.

Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore tells Brownfield …

“We are working on an enforcement, discretion guideline for wastewater treatment plants and for agriculture, because farmers aren’t responsible if PFAS are in biosolids that are spread on farm fields and wastewater treatment plants, aren’t responsible, it’s coming in from other sources,” she explains.

During a Michigan farm visit Friday, she assured farmers they won’t be held liable for PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

PFAS are a class of manufactured chemicals that have been widely used since the 1940s and are called forever chemicals because they break down very slowly over time.

Region 5 also includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana.

Senior Conservation and Regulatory Relations Specialist Laura Campbell with Michigan Farm Bureau tells Brownfield a bill introduced last week in Congress could take projections further.

“These folks don’t generate these chemicals, they don’t use them,” she says.  “They’re the unwilling recipients of them. They need to be protected from liability once these chemicals are designated as hazardous so that we can make sure that we’re actually going after the polluters and not the folks who are the victims.”

The Agriculture PFAS Liability Protection Act is part of a package of bills introduced to ensure industries, including agriculture, and municipalities are not subject to liability claims. 

The measure was introduced by Senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and co-sponsored by Senators Roger Wicker of Missouri, John Boozman of Arkansas, and Pete Ricketts of Nebraska along with three other Republicans.

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says he appreciates the legislation as farmers do not produce PFAS chemicals and do not intentionally use them.

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