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USA: Manure causes stink for lawmakers and farmers | Reuters

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  • Pamela Rice
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0637805020070906 Manure causes stink for lawmakers and farmers Thu Sep 6, 2007 4:48PM EDT By Christopher Doering WASHINGTON
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 7, 2007

      Manure causes stink for lawmakers and farmers
      Thu Sep 6, 2007 4:48PM EDT

      By Christopher Doering

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Manure generated on large
      U.S. livestock farms, which can later contaminate
      soil and water, has lead to a fierce debate over
      whether farmers and ranchers should be held
      responsible for cleaning up the mess.

      A lawsuit by Oklahoma Attorney General Drew
      Edmondson against Arkansas poultry companies
      claims phosphorus runoff from their chicken
      litter has polluted streams and rivers in
      Oklahoma. The lawsuit includes Tyson Foods Inc.,
      the largest U.S. meat company.

      "States like Oklahoma need legal tools to help
      stop and clean up animal-waste contamination,
      which is destroying significant and irreplaceable
      public resources," Edmondson told the Senate
      Committee on Environment and Public Works on

      So-called concentrated animal feeding operations
      (CAFOs) are becoming more common in the United
      States, with an estimated 19,000 in existence,
      according to the U.S. Environmental Protection

      Benjamin Grumbles, assistant administrator for
      water with the EPA, said states do "have the
      right to sue" since they are the ones that carry
      out the programs overseen by the agency.

      Bipartisan legislation, introduced in both the
      U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate
      earlier this year, would clarify that livestock
      manure is exempt from the EPA's "Superfund law"
      created in 1980 to address cleanup of hazardous
      and toxic chemical spills. Previous efforts to
      exempt manure from the Superfund law have

      Republican Kit Bond of Missouri said the
      Superfund law was never intended to be applied to
      agriculture, and the lawsuit by the state of
      Oklahoma amounted to nothing more than
      "litigation gridlock" that will ultimately hurt

      If livestock manure, used mostly by farmers as a
      fertilizer, was regulated under the EPA law,
      virtually every farm could be subject to millions
      of dollars in liabilities and penalties,
      supporters of the legislation say.

      Still, others argue that strong oversight is
      needed to protect consumers against food
      poisoning outbreaks that can be caused when
      manure seeps into irrigation water.

      Nearly 30 groups, including attorneys general
      from eight states, local officials and
      environmental groups, oppose an exemption for
      large farms that emit huge amounts of manure that
      can contain ammonia, bacteria, particulate matter
      and metals such as copper and arsenic.

      "CAFOs like every other major industry in this
      country, should be expected, and required, to
      accept their obligations and comply in full with
      environmental laws," said Catharine Fitzsimmons,
      chief of the Air Quality Bureau for the Iowa
      Department of Natural Resources.

      The American Farm Bureau Federation, the largest
      U.S. farm organization, said the vast majority of
      farmers who operate CAFOs are involved in a
      family-based business.

      "Many operations are near the tipping point where
      needless regulations that accomplish no real
      environmental or food safety goal will drive them
      out of business," said Chris Chinn with the farm

      Agriculture operations already are regulated
      under the Clean Water and Clean Air acts, as well
      as other federal and state environmental laws.

      © Reuters 2006. All rights reserved.

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