Farmers struggle with air monitoring program as EPA deadline looms

MEXICO, Mo. - Hog farmer Bill Kessler calls a voluntary federal program to monitor agricultural air quality "an insurance policy" he hopes will keep his 500-sow operation out of court.

For $200, he's essentially buying four years worth of immunity from air-pollution penalties.

Southwest Missouri dairy farmer Larry Purdon, though, calls the deal struck by the Environmental Protection Agency and the livestock industry a confusing mess.

As the July 29 deadline for participation approaches, Purdon plans to take his chances.

"Most of us don't know what the rules are. Right now, there's very little participation," said Purdon, who milks 100 cows on his Purdy farm near the Arkansas border.

"We've got small little operations on the pasture. We don't feel like there's an air emission problem."

EPA officials hoped to enlist thousands of hog, poultry, egg and dairy farmers nationwide when they announced the voluntary monitoring program in January. As of July 20, or little more than a week before the latest deadline -- it's been extended twice -- the number of willing participants stood at 832 businesses, said Bob Kaplan, an attorney in EPA's Washington enforcement office.

When the study and two more years of data review are done, the EPA will start cracking down on livestock production emissions such as ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds and dust -- the same factory pollutants the EPA now regulates.

Source: News Tribune Co
calendar icon 25 July 2005
clock icon 1 minute read
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