EPA reaches agreement with livestock industry

The US Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment on an agreement with the livestock industry that it says will reduce air pollution from so-called factory farms. In Ohio there are about 140 of these farms including the Buckeye Egg Farm and large dairies and hog operations. But not everyone thinks it’s a good deal.

With increased concentration in the livestock industry, farms have become a focus of concern about possible air pollution. As manure decomposes it lets off a cocktail of gasses, which contribute to smog, and health problems, like asthma. But, federal regulators say they don’t currently have an accurate way of estimating emissions from these farms.

Under the EPA agreement, the livestock industry will work with federal regulators to monitor emissions from large animal farms. Farms will buy into the program, paying up to 100-thousand dollars depending on their size. They’ll allow air quality monitoring on their farms and in exchange the EPA will agree not to sue them for past environmental violations. That’s where the problem arises, says Dan Bender with the Ohio Environmental Council.

Bender also objects to the way the deal was hashed out. He says negotiations between the industry and the EPA happened behind closed doors, with virtually no input from the environmental community.

The Environmental Protection Agency will accept public comment on the agreement, through next month.