Lobbyists fight for exemption on bulk milk storage


Capital Press

Dairy industry observers say federal agencies are working on several regulations that will impact dairymen.

Chris Galen, director of communications for National Milk Producers Federation, said the organization is waiting for clarification of EPA's spill prevention rule for oil.

The rule is meant to prevent oil spills and requires farms and other facilities that store oil products to have spill prevention plans. Butterfat in milk is considered oil, and the federation has worked to have bulk milk tanks exempted.

American Farm Bureau Federation, which also lobbied for the exemption, is also concerned with concentrated animal feeding operation --or CAFO -- regulations, said Paul Schlegel, director of public policy.

Ongoing lawsuits have addressed EPA's push for all CAFO operators to have a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit. In February 2005, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled EPA can't force operators to get the permit because they "might" discharge waste. The ruling stated the permit pertains to those who intend to discharge.

Then in early 2009, environmental groups again sued EPA over the permits in the 5th Circuit. In a settlement this year with the environmental groups, EPA agreed to propose a rule that would require CAFO owners who don't have permits to submit information to the agency to determine which ones should be regulated.

EPA's regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, beginning with large emitters, could also have serious implications for dairymen, he said.

Dairymen should also keep an eye on the Chesapeake Bay Initiative at EPA and the Mississippi River Basin Initiative at USDA, said Charlie Garrison, president of Garrison Group and lobbyist for Western United Dairymen and other dairy groups. The first will likely be the template as to how EPA is going to regulate runoff into watersheds.

"The USDA needs to be involved in these water issues. We need to get it right," he said.

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