Farmers Displeased With EPA Offer

FAYETTEVILLE - Turkey grower Juliet Miller's sentiment over a contract that could cost her $2,700 crystallized the mood of farmers gathered in Fayetteville on Wednesday night.

Miller, who drove up from the Mulberry area, said a proposed voluntary agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is akin to penalization without representation.

The EPA outlined its Air Quality Compliance Agreement for animal feeding operations for hundreds of people at the Pauline Whitaker Animal Science Center. The agreement did not sit well with those attending, judging by the applause and cheers that followed criticism of the proposal.

Farmers directed some of the vitriol at the origins of the agreement described by Larry Elmore of EPA's Dallas office.

Elmore described the pact between EPA and the animal food-processing industry interests as a safety net to ward off future lawsuits against either entity regarding air pollution from farms.

He repeatedly reminded the crowd the program is voluntary, but farmers expressed fear that it would eventually become mandatory.

The swine and egg-producing industries were the groups that contacted and negotiated with the EPA, said Morril Harriman, executive vice president of Little Rock-based The Poultry Federation, which represents poultry processors.

Chicken and turkey growers can sign a pact with the EPA just like a pig farmer because all three of those operations produce waste such as ammonia or particle matter, the EPA determined.

Farmers signing the voluntary agreement will pay what's being labeled a civil penalty of between $200 and $1,000, depending on farm size. That money goes to the U.S. Treasury, not the EPA, officials explained.

An additional $2,500 from each farm would fund a two-year study to determine the nature and volume of pollution coming from chicken houses and pig farms. Signing the deal would require opening farms to on-site testing.

calendar icon 28 April 2005
clock icon 1 minute read
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