Farms that meet certain criteria for oil and oil product storage have until Nov. 10, 2011, to develop and implement oil spill prevention, control and countermeasures, or SPCC plans.

The SPCC rule is part of the Oil Pollution Prevention regulation originally authorized in 1973 under the Clean Water Act. In December 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency removed a provision in the SPCC rule that had excluded farms from spill containment requirements. The changes became effective Jan. 14, 2010.

SPCC now applies to farms which meet all three of these criteria:

• Stores, transfers, uses, or consumes oil or oil products, such as diesel fuel, gasoline, lube oil, hydraulic oil, adjuvant oil, crop oil, vegetable oil or animal fat; and

• Stores more than 1,320 U.S. gallons in aboveground containers or more than 42,000 U.S. gallons in completely buried containers; and

• Could reasonably be expected to discharge oil to waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines, such as interstate waters, intrastate lakes, rivers or streams.

If your farm has a total oil storage capacity between 1,320 gallons and 10,000 gallons in above-ground containers, and the farm has a good spill history, you may be able to prepare and self-certify you own plan.For more information, see http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/docs/oil/spcc/spccfarms.pdf.

Due to the small amount of stored fuel and oil on most operations up to 84 percent of farmers and ranchers are able to self certify by completing an online template. This template is available at http://www.epa.gov/oem/content/spcc/tier1temp.htm.

If you have above-ground storage capacity of 10,000 gallons or more, or if you have had an oil spill, you may be required to have a plan prepared by a registered professional engineer.

Farmers with less than 1,320 U.S. gallons in aboveground containers remain exempt.

Oil storage includes all containers storing oil at a facility which are equal to or greater than 55 gallons. The capacity of the containers (maximum or shell capacity) must be considered and not the actual amount of product stored in the container.

Farmers and ranchers in the participating states who need assistance should contact NRCS at their nearest USDA Service Center.

For a list of frequently asked questions, see http://www.epa.gov/region5oil/plan/spcc.html#what2