Farm Bureau: PFAS is an emerging issue for farmers  

American Farm Bureau Federation’s Courtney Briggs says per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS is an emerging issue for the nation’s farmers and ranchers.

She says the agriculture industry could be negatively impacted by a proposed rule by the U.S. EPA to designate two of the most common PFAS chemicals – Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) – as hazardous materials.

“One of our greatest frustrations is a lot of the research and a lot of the technology development hasn’t been completed yet and the EPA is moving forward with a very serious rulemaking that could bring farmers into liability for PFAS cleanup,” she says. “We’d like to see the federal government move forward in a more aggressive fashion in creating research, developing technologies to dispose of PFAS, and setting standards. It’s very difficult for us to cleanup a farm field when we don’t know what standard the EPA wants to meet.”

She says farmers and ranchers should not be held liable for any PFAS contamination on their fields.

“Farmers do not use PFAS in any part of their operations but because the chemical doesn’t breakdown in nature it finds its way to farm fields and we are passive receivers of PFAS chemicals,” she says.

Briggs says the organization is also concerned about the long-term impacts in agriculture.

“We very much worry about land values and what this can do to farmers’ land,” she says. “Can they continue to produce on it? That is a huge concern for us right now.”

Earlier this month, bipartisan and bicameral legislation was introduced to help farmers affected by PFAS. The Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act would authorize grants for states to provide financial assistance to farmers, expand monitoring and testing, remediate PFAS, and help farmers relocate.

Speaking to Briggs during the Ohio Farm Bureau County Presidents’ Trip to Washington D.C., she said there isn’t infrastructure in place currently to help farmers impacted by a contamination and AFBF is hoping that indemnity programs are expanded or created to address PFAS issues.

According to the EPA, PFAS are a class of manufactured chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s. There are thousands of different PFAS, some of which have been more widely used and studied than others. They are called forever chemicals because they break down very slowly over time.

  • I can’t believe Farm Bureau writes an article and somehow forgets to list the source of the forever chemicals contaminating farmland. It is the EPA and state sanctioned practice of spreading BIOSOLIDS allowing our greatesr national resource to be quite literally used as a toilet. The new regulations pertain to PFOS and PFOA with strict limits of 4 ppt and four other PFAS compounds with a convoluted limit together.
    Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few years sewage treatment plants do not eliminate any of the at least 9,000 forever chemicals that happen to be in the waste stream. They also do not eliminate any heavy metals. Unfortunately up till last week there were no standards to go by so the toilet flushing on farmland continued unabated. This is not going to have a Disney ending to it. If your neighbor’s water gets tested and any amount of PFOS or PFOA are detected because you spread biosolids guess whose liable? It won’t be Dupont Chemours or whatever the hell they call themselves these days nor 3M who made it also. They have slick attorneys who will delay delay and delay like anybody else who has money. Criminal justice system in the US one is innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately that reasoning applies tonew chemical compounds also.

  • I hope that Farm Bureau doesn’t let the farmers down on this as they did on the right to repair bill where they let the farmers down when the going got tough.

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