The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is strongly encouraging producers to consider signing up to participate in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) air emissions consent agreement. Producers have until July 1 to sign up. The landmark agreement between the livestock sector and EPA establishes a nationwide air monitoring study that will define air emissions standards for agricultural operations, according to NPPC.

EPA has been concerned that some animal feeding operations may potentially release large amounts of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter, explains Amy Schmidt, University of Missouri extension agricultural engineer. “Regulators currently lack comprehensive data on air emissions from modern agricultural operations,” she says. “The intent is to allow producers to pool their resources to lower the cost of measuring emissions and ensure compliance.”

Based on potential ammonia emissions, pork producers should consider signing up “if they confine at least 1,000 pigs of 55 lb. or more, or at least 3,000 pigs less than 55 lb.,” says Schmidt.

Two, one-time fees will be assessed for participation. For the first fee, producers must pay a civil penalty ranging from $200 to $100,000, depending on the size and number of farms owned.

A second fee, not to exceed $2,500/farm, will help fund monitoring studies within respective animal industries. Swine and egg industries have earmarked checkoff funds to pay for their studies.

Schmidt declares: “Although a participating producer pays fees, the EPA will release them from any federal and state liability for alleged past air emissions violations as long as they comply with the agreement.” She adds, “For some producers, that legal protection may be worth considering.”

She advises producers to seek legal advice if they intend to sign up. Also, the University of Missouri’s Commercial Agriculture program has developed a one-page producer fact sheet and a five-page information guide to help explain eligibility, cost, legal requirements and other aspects of the agreement. Both are available online at www.agebb.Missouri.edu/commag/epa.htm. The Web site also includes a link to the downloadable agreement. Schmidt can be reached at SchmidtA@Missouri.edu or (573) 882-2731.