In a major court victory for the American Farm Bureau Federation and other farm organizations, a unanimous federal court of appeals ruled earlier this week that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot require livestock farmers to apply for Clean Water Act permits unless their farms actually discharge manure into U.S. waters. The American Farm Bureau Federation, National Pork Producers Council and several other agriculture groups filed the suit against EPA.
AFBF President Bob Stallman points out that for the second time, a U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that EPA's authority is limited by the Clean Water Act to jurisdiction over only actual discharges to navigable waters, not potential discharges. Stallman says they are pleased that the federal courts have again reined in EPA's unlawful regulation of livestock operations under the Clean Water Act.
In the ruling, issued March 15, the Fifth Circuit concluded that the CWA provides a comprehensive liability scheme and the EPA's attempt to supplement this scheme is in excess of its statutory authority. According to the ruling, non-discharging CAFOs do not need permit coverage. AFBF legal analysts are continuing to review the ruling to determine how it will affect livestock farmers and ranchers, including those currently engaged in lawsuits with EPA.