Iowa Farmers have less than two weeks to make a tough decision, whether they’ll offer to be part of an Evironmental Protection Agency study of livestock emissions. Eldon McAfee with Iowa Pork Producers says federal clean-air standards, once applied only to “smokestack” industries, will also be used to guage pollution in farming regions, so the federal agency wants to ensure its emission standards are appropriate. The E-P-A is now looking at enforcing the laws in reference to livestock operations — but has found there isn’t any good data out there on what they’re emitting, so it’s preparing to conduct a monitoring study to determine just what emissions come from various types of confinement feeding operations. They don’t deal with cattle feedlots, just enclosed facilities like hog operations and poultry barns. Farmers have until August 12 to sign up to be one of the production facilities monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency. The farmers will pay a fee to take part — but the fee will shield them from fines for any violations they may have, once the standards are set. McAfee admits it looks like an offer with a lot of drawbacks. To get the protection for potential past violations, each producer pays a pentlay, based on the size of their operation, from 200-dollars for a farmer with one small place, to a maximum of 100-thousand for a producer with many farms. The paradox is paying before they know if they’ll be found in violation once the standards are in place, and McAfee says many farmers don’t like paying “up front.” Most farmers pride themselves in being in full compliance with all regulations, he says. “This is one that’s kind of come out of the blue that hasn’t been enforced by E-P-A,” he notes, and now rural air-quality monitoring is scheduled to be enforced they’re asked to pay a penalty before they know if they’ll have any violations. If you don’t sign up, the E-P-A has power to penalize a farmer for past violations — emitting more than 100 pounds of ammonia or hydrogen sulfide per day — for each day the farm’s been in operation, at a rate of 27-thousand-500 dollars a day. Many farmers have signed up to be considered for the emissions sampling, and all will pay the fee and be shielded from future fines, even though McAfee says only a dozen or so nationwide will actually be chosen for monitoring to determine the standards.
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