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AFF Sentinel V20#38-A Win and New Laws to Fix Laws

The EPA Declines and Leftist Lawmakers and Groups Favor California's Dictates

Steve Dittmer | AFF Sentinel

Colorado Springs, CO

Originally sent to subscribers 08/22/23

Sometimes you just have to stick your net into the rushing stream and pull in what you can. This week has already brought good news and predictable opposition from the left.

We’re all tired and frustrated with activist groups getting all the consideration from government while productive people get clubbed over the head. But sometimes, it goes the other way.

The EPA has ruled that it would reject two petitions from activist groups attacking what’s been termed Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO). It will convene a Federal Advisory Committee subcommittee to study the CAFO “pollution problem,” starting in 2024 and likely taking 12-18 months to determine if there are problems. Problems could come from that later.

Food and Water Watch (F&WW), one of the parties to the lawsuits involved, was very unhappy, saying that EPA was ignoring the “mounting factory farm pollution crisis.”

“Factory farms pose a significant and mounting threat to clean water, largely because EPA’s weak rules have left most of the industry entirely unregulated…”

Feeding operations across the country will be shocked to find out that the myriad state environmental quality departments don’t exist, and that the rules and regulations they have been required to adhere to are imaginary.

F&WW goes on: "...factory farm pollution threatens or impairs over 14,000 miles of rivers and streams and more than 90,000 acres of lakes and ponds nationwide, yet fewer than one third of the country’s largest 21,000+ largest factory farms have National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, F&WW’s statement said.

We have no idea of the accuracy of their claims regarding miles of river or number of lakes. We would certainly call out their exaggerated numbers and definition of “large” factory farms. They have to be counting everyone with more animals than found in the average back yard “farm.”

 But the point is, for these people, unless there is a federal law, things aren’t getting done. Or so they claim.

“Under the Clean Water Act, CAFOs are explicitly included in the definition of a point source and are thus subject to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting requirements, which regulates the discharge of pollutants,” according to Emory University.

What F&WW really means, is that since the EPA has not put livestock feeding facilities out of business, it has not done its job. Because there is an extensive labyrinth of state, federal and local laws to regulate livestock feeding operations.

But at least for once, federal bureaucrats ruled that they had an important area already covered. Frivolous harassment of farm operations already working within rules and regulations to produce high quality food from the natural resources available in the safest and most efficient way should be rejected.

By the way, we’ve been exposed to F&WW’s long-time harassment of the livestock industry for years, as we attended the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) meetings, where they were always in opposition to mainstream agricultural management and called for more federal regulation.

On a related front, NCBA has warned cattlemen that the new Farm Bill is a dangerous minefield of misguided proposals from activist groups from within and outside agriculture. Every activist group and dubiously motivated member of Congress wants to make a name by slipping something into the many pages of the Farm Bill to accomplish something we don’t need or oppose something we do need.

We’ve written extensively about California’s Prop 12 that forces compliance with that state’s unprecedented regulation of the management of hog, veal and poultry production.  A coalition of 16 state attorneys general sent a letter to Congressional leaders, urging passage of the EATS Act. If the Supreme Court is willing to let one state tell the other 49 how to raise hogs, veal calves and chickens, other states are not willing to let that stand. After all, SCOTUS interprets the laws, it doesn’t make them.

The attorneys general of Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia signed onto the letter to Congressional leaders.

That is in addition to a coalition of 11 state governors who also wrote to Congress in June to encourage passage of the EATS Act.

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Ia) have proposed the EATS Act that would preserve a state’s authority to regulate agriculture within its own borders.  Proposition 12 requires pork producers outside California to comply with that state’s regulations in order to sell pork in California.

Now, a group of Congressmen has sent a letter to the House Agriculture committee opposing including the EATS Act in the Farm Bill. Labeled as a “bipartisan” group of 150 to 170 lawmakers, we haven’t been able to find a list of signers, although only two Republicans have been mentioned in stories, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY).

The letter attempts to describe a descent into utter chaos if states are allowed to go back to regulating the livestock industry like they’ve been doing for hundreds of years. They claim laws regarding infectious diseases, invasive pests and food safety would be compromised, even dragging puppy mills into the fear mongering. All if we go back to the status quo, not allowing California or any other state to begin micromanagement of animal husbandry in other states.

HSUS claims the bill would jeopardize over 1,000 important regulations.

Text of the most relevant section of the law:  “Consistent with the Commerce Clause of section 8 of article I of the Constitution of the United States, the government of a State or a unit of local government within a State shall not impose a standard or condition on the production or manufacture of any agricultural products sold or offered for sale in interstate commerce if (1) the production or manufacture occurs in another State; and (2) the standard or condition is in addition to the standards and conditions applicable to the production or manufacture pursuant to— (A) Federal law; and (B) the laws of the State and unit of local government in which the production or manufacture occurs.”

We’re not sure how this language would destroy state agricultural laws. We also can’t see how this law would destroy smaller farms and ranches across the country. If anything, it would save livestock operations from having to spend huge amounts of money to satisfy the arbitrary dictates of some legislature in another state in order to sell product there.

The usual opposition disagrees.

 “The EATS Act would accelerate market concentration in the food and agriculture industries to the benefit of a handful of multinational corporate agribusinesses,” said Joe Maxwell, president of Farm Action Fund and former HSUS activist and OCM CEO. An opposition coalition, that includes the Natural Resources Defense Council and the ASPCA oppose the bill.

No stranger to hyperbole, an OCM board member, Deborah Mills said,

“If EATS is included in the upcoming farm bill, it’ll mark the end of American family farming as we know it.”

That is puzzling, since the smaller the operation, the more likely they don't have the capital to re-work operations to comply with something like California's animal welfare laws. The Eats Act would help prevent more concentration.

With the folks opposing this bill, it must be over the target. And it certainly is better than production agriculture being subject to the dubious judgement of California voters, lawmakers and regulators.


Edi. Note: the pic below looked so good, we had to keep it again, (courtesy beef Check off).

Edi. Note: the pic below looked so good, we had to keep it again, (courtesy beef Check off).


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