In response to lawsuits and EPA crackdowns on manure product runoff across the nation, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) is telling Congress to clarify the intent of the Superfund laws.
In a letter to Joe Barton, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, NCBA urges Congress to confirm that it never intended the 1980 Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) or the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know-Act (EPCRA) to regulate manure.
"Without such clarification," the letter states, "every livestock operation, agricultural field or organic farming operation on which manure or manure compost is spread for fertilizer in this country could be subject to comprehensive and highly regulated cleanup under Superfund law.
“CERCLA and EPCRA were intended for the worst-case environmental disasters, not for the regulation of on-farm usage of manure. If lawsuits against livestock and poultry operations are successful in arguing that manure warrants Superfund action, we will essentially be outlawing the use of manure-based fertilizer in this country."
The cattle industry is not alone in opposing extensions of CERCLA and EPCRA. In Waco, Texas, waste from dairy farms polluted drinking water and resulted in litigations. After facing lawsuits and criticism after chicken waste entered water sources, poultry producers in Oklahoma have also opposed EPA interpretations of the Superfund laws.
NCBA is urging U.S. cattle producers to ask Congress to support legislature that would defend agriculture. One such bill has already been introduced in Congress and has garnered more than 180 cosponsors; in the Senate, 30 cosponsors are supporting identical legislation.