Sponsored by USPOULTRY, the 2019 Environmental Management Seminar focused on recent political shifts and sustainability efforts affecting the industry. Professionals, consultants, university personnel and representatives of the production and processing industry addressed a wide variety of topics including wastewater treatment training programs, environmental opportunities in rendering, flow equalization, wastewater systems and regulatory updates.

Paul Bredwell, executive vice president of regulatory programs for USPOULTRY, provided a regulatory update on the recent repeal of the 2015 Rule which illegally expanded the definition of the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act. Bredwell thoroughly explained the timeline from the creation of the 2015 Rule to its recent repeal, noting that the original rule was politically driven rather than scientifically based. “The Rule to repeal the 2015 regulation has been finalized. In this repeal, we find an administrator who agrees with our industry and numerous other stakeholders that EPA’s definition of ‘waters of the United States’ should be reasonable and legally defensible,” commented Bredwell.

Greg Blount, partner with Troutman Sanders LLP, continued with the regulatory update with his presentation on the “Clean Water Act and Emerging Contaminants.” He provided an overview of recent and potential developments, reviewed WOTUS relative to hydrologically connected groundwater and effluent limitations guidelines and concluded with a discussion on production and supply risks related to emerging contaminants.

Steve Patrick, managing director of environmental services with Tyson Foods, offered an inside look at how Tyson has approached the challenge of creating a reputation as a good neighbor as the company grows and expands in to local communities. Patrick stressed the need for communication and a willingness to work through complaints and issues, rather than going on the offensive. “We never use terms that will aggravate the situation - ‘we were here first,’ ‘right to farm,’ etc.,” explained Patrick. “We are trying to resolve issues and continue to build a positive, collaborative relationship. That’s what our goal is.” 

USPOULTRY’s annual Clean Water Award winners were also announced at the conference. The award program recognizes poultry facilities that are excelling in their efforts to treat wastewater and reduce potable water demand by reusing treated wastewater where possible. Awards are given in two categories, full treatment and pretreatment. This year, Pilgrim’s in Sanford, North Carolina, was named the winner in the full treatment category, and Tyson Foods in Seguin, Texas, won the award in the pretreatment category. Honorable mention with distinction awards were presented to Sanderson Farms in Waco, Texas, and Tyson Foods in Nashville, Arkansas, in the full treatment category. Tyson Foods in Robards, Kentucky, received an honorable mention with distinction award in the pretreatment category.