Donnelly Welcomes EPA Rule, Based on his Bipartisan FARM Act, which would Prevent Farmers from Having to File Needless Reporting Paperwork

Senator’s FARM Act was included in legislation signed into law earlier this year

Indianapolis, Ind. – U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly welcomed a proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that follows from his bipartisan Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act. The proposed rule is EPA’s plan for implementing Donnelly’s provisions, which were designed to prevent farmers from being required to file needless, burdensome reports with the EPA. The EPA has previously stated that the reports were not being used by the federal government, meaning that farmers would have been spending time and money on unnecessary paperwork. Donnelly introduced the FARM Act earlier this year with Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) and it was included in a larger legislative package that was signed into law by President Trump in March.

Donnelly said, “Hoosier farmers, who live and work on the land every day, know how important it is to protect the environment. I was proud to work with Senator Fischer to get my bipartisan FARM Act signed into law earlier this year, and I welcome this proposed rule from the EPA, because farmers shouldn’t be spending precious time and money on reports and paperwork that will go unused.”

Josh Trenary, Executive Director of Indiana Pork, said, “The announcement of EPA’s proposed rule is an important step in implementing the FARM Act, which clarified that Congress did not intend air emission reporting requirements for emergency preparedness to apply to low level emissions from the natural breakdown of manure. We appreciate the efforts of Senator Donnelly and his staff for helping make that bipartisan effort possible. Planning for emergencies is important, but best accomplished in a dialogue between the farmer and local emergency responders—not by filing a report stating that manure exists on a livestock farm.”

Joel Brandenberger, President, National Turkey Federation said, “Burdensome federal regulations that don’t take into account real-world implications are one of the greatest challenges facing American turkey farmers today. The National Turkey Federation is appreciative of Senator Donnelly’s leadership on the FARM Act and his efforts to see unfair air emissions reporting requirements eliminated for farmers.” 

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) are laws that require entities to notify the appropriate authorities in order to organize emergency responses for the cleanup of hazardous contaminations. CERCLA primarily requires reporting to federal authorities and EPCRA primarily to state and local emergency response coordinators. In 2008, EPA stated that federal emergency responses to air emissions associated from livestock were unlikely, unforeseeable, and impractical, and the agency published a final rule exempting all livestock operations from CERCLA’s reporting requirements and most livestock farms from EPCRA’s requirements.

In April 2017, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled EPA did not have the authority to create this exemption for agriculture, creating confusion and uncertainty for America’s ag producers. In response Donnelly worked with his colleagues to develop bipartisan legislation that would exempt air emissions from animal waste on a farm from reporting requirements under CERCLA.