July 7, 2006
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has commended the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) rule, saying it would make it easier for farmers and ranchers to operate without onerous federal regulation.
AFBF said that the proposed rule appeared to comply with a 2005 court ruling that only those livestock operations that actually discharge or propose to discharge pollution are required to apply for discharge permits.
"AFBF will continue to analyze the fine points of the proposed rule, and will submit extensive comments to EPA," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "But, at first glance, it looks like the agency did what it needed to do in order to bring federal CAFO regulations into line with the court's interpretation of the Clean Water Act."
The proposed rule revises a 2003 CAFO regulation. Both environmental and agricultural groups, including AFBF, challenged the original 2003 CAFO rule in court. As a result, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2005 that EPA only had the authority to regulate actual discharges, not the potential to discharge in the event of a rare, heavy storm. Although environmental groups have criticized the agricultural stormwater exemption, Stallman said that the court upheld it.
"Some groups are now raising the same arguments in response to this proposal that were repeatedly raised and rejected in court," Stallman said. "Neither side won every argument, but livestock producers intend to comply with the ruling and others should, as well. It's time to move on and implement the ruling."
EPA's proposal also complies with the agency's original interpretation that limits the agricultural stormwater exemption. CAFOs must maintain Nutrient Management Plans (NMP), apply nutrients at agronomic rates and maintain adequate records. In addition, the proposed rule requires CAFOs that obtain discharge permits to submit their NMP with their permit application, requires state review and approval and provides the public a chance to review and comment on NMPs.
"This proposal includes the requirement for large livestock producers to have NMPs, which will help ensure that they are applying nutrients and managing their operations in a way that minimizes the environmental impact," Stallman said.
The proposed rule was expected to be published in the Federal Register by July 3. EPA will provide a 45-day comment period and hold public listening sessions around the country.
The House recently passed a bill that exempts estate assets of $5 million per person and $10 million for married couples against death taxes. The bill also would tax estates of up to $25 million at the capital gains rate, and those above that amount at twice the capital gains rate.
Pat Wolff, American Farm Bureau tax specialist, said the bill does not permanently repeal the death tax as sought by Farm Bureau, but it does give some tax relief.
Outlook for the bill in the Senate is questionable at best, and Senate leadership is not expected to bring the bill to the floor unless they are sure of at least 60 votes. On June 8, the Senate voted 57-41 not to proceed with a death tax repeal bill.
"The Farm Bureau appreciates the president taking a stand in support of farmers and ranchers who are often the target of land takings for economic development near their communities. Individual states, with urging from Farm Bureau members, have been taking action to limit the use of eminent domain, but no federal law that would limit the use of federal funds has been forthcoming since the Kelo v. City of New London case judgment a year ago.
"We continue to support the House bill (H.R. 4128) that denies the use of federal funds in any project where eminent domain is used for only economic development purposes, and we urge the Senate to proceed with this legislation which the House passed last year."
Statement by American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman regarding President Bush's Executive Order for eminent domain actions.
Communities and landowners who want to tap into the increasing eco-tourism potential for both hunting and non-hunting markets in Texas are encouraged to attend a Wildlife Tourism seminar Aug. 2 at the YO Ranch near Mountain Home.
Carol Patterson of Alberta, Canada, author of "The Business of Ecotourism," and editor of Ecotourism Management magazine, will be the keynote speaker. The seminar will be 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Registrants also may opt for an Aug. 3 tour of the ranch.
Other experts and business owners will be on the program to discuss various aspects of operating and expanding such businesses.
Registration for the event is $35 for the seminar and must be completed by July 25 to receive door prize tickets. The conference hotel is the YO Ranch Resort in Kerrville, 877-967-3767. For more information and to register, call 979-845-4511 or visit http://naturetourism.tamu.edu.