President Trump signs $1.3 trillion spending bill, ending air-pollution reporting requirements for farmers 

President Donald Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill into law last month.  

Farmers  who own animal feeding operation across the country were relieved when the bill was signed, due to Title XI of the omnibus bill, called the “Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act” or “FARM act.”   

This exempts the reporting of air emissions from large-scale livestock under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).  

Now, cattle, egg, poultry and hog owners will not have to report levels of ammonia or hydrogen sulfide from their operations until further notice.  

 Kenny Brinker, a swine farmer in Callaway County, Missouri, says he was pleased to hear the news.  

“There’s really no good way of measuring those levels at livestock operations and if we did measure them, nobody really knows what the threshold should be,” Brinker said. “So, it was going to be a lot of extra paperwork with a lot of ‘guesstimates’ about what the levels were.”  

Brinker said that, if he would have needed to report emissions, he would have done it directly—no specific entity would be measuring the emissions for him.  

 The Environmental Protection Agency’s two environmental laws, CERCLA and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), were established in response to mitigate some of the environmental effects large farming operations could have. When these laws were created, however, the EPA recognized that specific guidelines to measure these emissions needed to be further developed.  

Now, with the new legislation, only large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are subject to the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Some of EPCRA’s requirements include making operations maintain a safety data sheet and submit a list of hazardous chemicals to their State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and local fire department.  

Dr. Teng Lim is an MU Extension associate professor of the Agriculture Systems Management, specializing in air quality. Lim says this legislation will give the Environmental Protection Agency more time to refine guidelines for reporting on these emissions.    

“Both sides need more time to prepare a more standardized and straightforward way for people to be able to estimate emissions. By not asking people or forcing people to do that, it buys us more time.”