- WASHINGTON (www.nando.net) -- Concerned about drinking water and fish kills,
state and local officials told Congress Thursday the federal government
should impose national standards for disposal of farm-animal waste to protect
waterways that frequently cross many political boundaries.
- Such controls also would prevent companies
from relocating where there is little regulation, they said.
- Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening, a Democrat
who is pushing increased regulation of farms following a toxic microbe
outbreak last summer in Chesapeake Bay tributaries, pointed out that farm
practices in six states affect the bay.
- "As a single state, we can only
have a limited impact on overall water quality," Glendening told the
Senate Agriculture Committee. "We must address the issue of water
quality on a broader scale."
- Both Glendening and Susan Savage, the
Democratic mayor of Tulsa, Okla., said states that are willing to impose
their own tough regulations could wind up losing jobs if companies decide
to move elsewhere.
- "They will look for new markets
and more relaxed regulatory climates," said Savage, whose state is
also working on hog and poultry waste regulations. "States such as
Oklahoma, who do the right thing, should not be penalized economically
for protecting their drinking water supplies."
- There are already several federal proposals
to address manure runoff and pollution, which overloads waterways with
nutrients that spur growth of algae and other organisms. The problem has
worsened as animals are increasingly concentrated in larger and larger
operations; some farmers also use manure as fertilizer.
- The Environmental Protection Agency last
month proposed rules, under the Clean Water Act, to set new pollution standards
and waste management plans for the 6,600 largest cattle, hog and poultry
- Some in Congress want to go further.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has introduced legislation that would set even
tougher minimum animal waste standards and require companies to submit
detailed plans to the Agriculture Department, instead of to the EPA.
- "This is a coast-to-coast problem,"
- The Clinton administration and many leading
Republicans oppose the Harkin bill, saying it is unnecessary duplication
and would put a strain on limited staffing resources. Poultry and livestock
producers also prefer the EPA proposal, which they say will impose national
standards for all states.
- "State programs are in place to
meet this standard. They just need to be implemented equitably," said
Harry Knobee, a cattle feedlot operator from West Point, Neb., who testified
on behalf of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
- Tim Maupin, a nutrient management planner
for the Rocco Inc. poultry company in Harrisonburg, Va., said his industry
and the others are putting together their own voluntary waste proposals
and don't want more costly bureaucracy.
- "When you look at the Harkin bill's
provisions, you have what appears to be a great recipe for running small-
and medium-sized family farmers out of business."