Representatives from the Agricultural Nutrient Policy Council and the poultry industry were among those testifying at the recent U.S. Congressional hearing involving the Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load rule.
ANPC senior advisor Tom Herbert focused on certain discrepancies between EPA data and U.S. Department of Agriculture data, including baseline sediment loads (EPA numbers are three times USDA numbers), nitrogen estimates (EPA numbers are 25% lower than the USDA's) and phosphorus loads (EPA numbers are 25% higher than the USDA's). “In terms of sediment and phosphorus, this comparison could be interpreted to mean that agriculture has already met its TMDL obligations, and in the case of nitrogen it would indicate that in absolute terms agriculture can meet the EPA’s TMDL load allocation,” said Hebert. “But the real bottom line is that these differences are so substantial that the need for further work on the TMDL is apparent.”
Hobey Bauhan, president of Virginia Poultry Federation and representative for the National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, said the EPA should recognize the poultry industry’s tools and programs that are improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and across the nation. Family poultry farms in Virginia have, for more than a decade, expanded their conservation practices to enhance water quality, according to Bauhan. “The results of these actions are reflected in the EPA’s estimates that between 1985 and 2005 nutrient loads from agriculture decreased to the Chesapeake Bay, while nutrient loadings from developed lands increased by 16 percent,” he said.
Poultry industry representatives believe that heavy-handed federal mandates are unnecessary because states have already adopted effective regulations to improve water quality. “Imposing burdensome mandates based on questionable data only imposes more costs, paperwork and burdens on family farmers, while achieving few real benefits for water quality,” said Bauhan.