'Farmers are not only the stewards of the land, they are vital partners in the Bush Administration's efforts to accelerate the pace of environmental progress, while growing our nation's economy,' said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. 'This is a new day for cooperation between agriculture and EPA. Working together to expand our scientific understanding of air emissions from livestock operations, we can do what's good for agriculture, good for our environment, and good for the American people.'
With EPA oversight, researchers from eight universities will take part in the 21/2-year, $14.6 million study to measure levels of hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter, ammonia, nitrous oxide, volatile organic compounds and other gases from livestock facilities. The research officially begins today at 24 sites in nine states.
EPA concluded in the late 1990's that it did not have sufficient air emissions data for AFOs, which made it difficult to determine the compliance status of AFOs with existing air emissions requirements. EPA began discussions with AFO owners in 2001. Ultimately, EPA developed an innovative and voluntary consent agreement with the AFO industry. This agreement established a framework for farmers to participate in a monitoring study. Over 2600 agreements were signed, representing approximately 14,000 swine, dairy, egg-laying and broiler chicken (meat-bird) farms (an AFO can include more than one farm).
'There has never been an agricultural air emissions study this comprehensive or long term,' according to Dr. Al Heber of Purdue University, the lead scientist for the study. 'We don't know enough about what is being emitted into the atmosphere. This study will give the EPA the data it needs to make science-based decisions.'
As part of the consent agreement, AFOs contributed to a fund to pay for the monitoring study. The study is being conducted by Purdue University and its partners.
EPA intends to use the data from the monitoring study to develop an improved method for estimating emissions from individual AFOs. EPA believes this innovative agreement will bring farms into compliance more quickly than could have been accomplished through traditional, case-by-case enforcement.
The eight universities participating in the study are: Purdue University; University of California-Davis; Cornell University; Iowa State University; University of Minnesota; North Carolina State University; Texas A&M University; and Washington State University.