Washington, DC—The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) today expressed its strong support for legislation introduced by Senators Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that would protect America’s dairy farmers from unnecessary and costly oil spill regulations. The bill would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize, within 30 days of the bill’s enactment, the Agency’s proposed exemption of on-farm milk storage from Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rules.
Under EPA’s original set of SPCC rules for agriculture, milk is considered an oil that falls under the regulations since it contains animal fat. To address the fact that spilled milk does not pose a major environmental threat, EPA issued a proposed rule change in January 2009 exempting on-farm milk containers that meet well-defined sanitary standards. That 2009 proposal has still not been finalized by the agency.
“The idea of EPA treating spilled milk similarly to oil spills is ludicrous. My common sense legislation will require EPA to exempt milk containers from oil spill regulations within 30 days,” said Senator Johanns. “Considering the exemption was proposed in January of last year and the compliance date for these regulations is rapidly approaching, EPA should stop dragging its feet. These regulations would be laughable if not for the costly burdens they will place on our dairy farmers if not stopped.”
“The action by Senators Johanns and Schumer will provide regulatory certainty to dairy farmers, and will help ensure that EPA does not waste taxpayers’ dollars attempting to address a problem that simply doesn’t exist,” said NCFC President Chuck Conner. “We hope that, with or without passage of this bill, EPA acts to finalize its proposal in regards to on-farm milk storage.”
“In addition,” continued Conner, “NCFC hopes that EPA will delay the compliance deadline for the overall SPCC rules for agriculture past this November to ensure that producers are able to implement needed changes in their operations in a timely and cost-effective manner.”
Since 1929, NCFC has been the voice of America’s farmer cooperatives. Our members are regional and national farmer cooperatives, which are in turn composed of nearly 3,000 local farmer cooperatives across the country. NCFC members also include 26 state and regional councils of cooperatives. Farmer cooperatives allow individual farmers the ability to own and lead organizations that are essential for continued competitiveness in both the domestic and international markets.
America’s farmer-owned cooperatives provide a comprehensive array of services for their members. These diverse organizations handle, process and market virtually every type of agricultural commodity. They also provide farmers with access to infrastructure necessary to manufacture, distribute and sell a variety of farm inputs. Additionally, they provide credit and related financial services, including export financing.