In comments submitted to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) President Gene Schmidt expressed concern with the proposed National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) Reporting Rule. Specifically, NACD is concerned about EPA’s recommended options for gathering information under the rule; the potential for the disclosure of private information to the public; and the agency’s potential engagement in regulatory overreach in light of current law. 

“As conservationists, we believe that locally-led, voluntary efforts are the best approach to protecting our nation’s water, air and land,” said Schmidt. “NACD is concerned that EPA’s proposed rule will disturb locally-led efforts, and create undue burdens and uncertainties for owners and operators of CAFOs.”

NACD is opposed to the proposed options for obtaining information from CAFOs. Rather than using new methods for collecting information about CAFOs, the best way to advance conservation is by working directly with established partnerships at the local level and through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“In many states, local conservation districts are actively working with state permitting authorities and local technicians to implement conservation practices and nutrient management plans,” said Schmidt. “These practices are straightforward and locally-driven. EPA’s determination of where to focus relies on unclear standards, and competes with NRCS involvement in specific watersheds throughout the country.”

NACD is also concerned that information collected by EPA under the CWA will be released to the public. Requiring the disclosure of sensitive information creates serious privacy concerns for bio-security and personal safety on family farms and ranches. Furthermore, the proposed rule appears to create regulatory overreach in light of current law. EPA is not currently required to collect this information under the CWA, and doing so would encroach on the role of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and local permitting authorities.

“Local permitting authorities work together with producer groups to develop permitting programs and nutrient management plans that take into account local environmental concerns,” Schmidt continued. “It’s important to maintain this flexibility to allow states to build upon their own successful efforts to conserve our nation’s natural resources.”

 To view NACD’s full comments, click here: www.nacdnet.org/news/publications/enotes/NACD_CAFO_Comments.pdf.