Groups Urge EPA to Regulate Large Livestock Farms
About two dozen environmental and consumer groups are asking the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate large dairy and hog farms under federal air pollution laws, according to a report by the American Ag Network. Iowa has over 5,000 hog farms (as of 2020) according to the Iowa Pork Producers Association, and 1,360 licensed dairy farms according to the ISDA. That makes Iowa the 12th largest milk-producing state in the United States.
According to the report, groups including the Sierra Club and the Government Accountability Project say in their petition that,
The EPA has the duty and authority to regulate these methane super-emitters under the Clean Air Act as part of the administration’s larger strategy to prevent catastrophic and irreversible climate change.
An article in Successful Farming backs-up the claim about the EPA having the authority to use the same section of the Clean Air Act to set air pollution limits on industrial hog and dairy farms that it used to propose carbon emission limits on power plants. The petition states the need for regulations on operations with at least 500 cows or 1,000 hogs in place without access to pasture.
The groups say in their petition that these large scale farms account for 13 percent of all U.S. methane emissions. The petition says,
Proven, pasture-based farming with reduced, sustainable herd sizes will help restore rural communities, help stabilize the climate, and provide environmental justice
Agriculture generally is exempt from air and water pollution laws. You can read the full petition here.