Carper, Coons Introduce FARM Act to Provide Certainty and Clarity for Delaware Farmers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper, top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Chris Coons, co-chair of the Chicken Caucus, (both D-Del.) introduced the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act to provide certainty to poultry and other livestock farmers regarding Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reporting requirements for animal waste emissions. After a court ruling last year voided a 2008 EPA rule limiting the number of animal agriculture operations needing to report their air emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA), EPA failed to provide timely, adequate guidance to newly impacted farmers. The FARM Act introduced today by a bipartisan group of Senators would reinstate EPA’s 2008 exemption for animal waste emissions reporting from livestock farmers under CERCLA.

“Delaware’s farmers, who work hard to comply with reporting requirements, deserve certainty for their businesses that support our local economies and to know clearly what is expected of them,” said Senator Carper. “I am pleased to join Senator Coons and a bipartisan group of senators to work together toward a solution that provides clarity for our hardworking farmers and necessary data to protect our environment and keep the public informed. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move the FARM Act through Congress.” 

“I am honored to support this common-sense fix for our poultry farmers in Delaware,” said Senator Coons. “I believe that strong environmental protections must be balanced with an approach that makes sense for farmers, who work hard to be good stewards of their land.  I have heard from many farmers in Delaware about this issue, and I am pleased to be working with Senator Carper to ensure that they get the clarity and relief they need.”

In January, the senators sent a letter urging EPA to request a delay from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals so the agency had more time to provide farmers with the tools and information they need to fully understand their obligation and avoid legal liability for untimely or inaccurate reporting, and to give Congress time to act. As part of its filing with the Court, EPA included an earlier bipartisan letter led by Senators Carper and Coons advocating on behalf of farmers and raising concerns about EPA’s proposed guidance. Following the Senators’ letter, EPA agreed to request a delay from the court, and earlier this month the court moved the reporting deadline from January 22, 2018 to May 1, 2018.

The FARM Act would:

  • Exempt air emissions from animal waste on a farm from reporting requirements under CERCLA.
  • Provide agriculture producers with greater certainty by reinstating the status quo producers have been operating under with respect to CERCLA since EPA’s 2008 final rule
  • Protect local communities’ right to information about their air quality

Joining Senators Carper and Coons as sponsors of the FARM Act are Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas).