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Normal farm smell isn't an environmental crisis argue Kansas, Nebraska senators

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Tom Joyce

(The Center Square) - U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, and U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska, have teamed up to file a bill they think would benefit family farmers and ranchers.

The two filed legislation to clarify that the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) does not regulate manure odors. The lawmakers say the odor is not a public safety threat and that the Environmental Protection Agency under President Joe Biden treating it as one is a problem.

Marshall said in a press release from his office that livestock emissions are only a small part of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

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“Biden’s war on American agriculture continues as they push animal emissions reporting on producers through the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act," Marshall said. "Forcing the agriculture industry to report these emissions would only inundate first responders with useless information hindering their ability to respond to emergencies. I strongly support this legislation clarifying that naturally occurring, low-level livestock emissions are not the type of information needed, nor useful, to first responders. Keep in mind livestock emissions represent less than 4 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.”

Meanwhile, Fischer said rural Americans do not need Washington, D.C., making life harder for farmers.

“The last thing producers need are more government regulations," Fischer said. "And first responders, who deal with real public safety emergencies every day, don’t need to be inundated with irrelevant reports. My bill would make permanent the previous administration’s reporting exemption under EPCRA for animal waste emissions. Rural America doesn’t need Washington bureaucrats pushing through more rules that burden producers and provide no value to local emergency planning commissions."

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The bill has received support from many organizations in the farming industry. 

The American Farm Bureau Federation is one of those entities. Senior Director Courtney Briggs said the bill would help first responders keep their priorities straight.

“The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act is an important tool in keeping communities safe in times of emergency, but it was never designed to require farmers to report the normal odors of a farm to first responders. We appreciate Sen. Fischer for her work to formally exempt farms from EPCRA, which will enable authorities to focus on responding to real disasters when they threaten neighborhoods."

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National Pork Producers Council CEO Bryan Humphries agreed that this bill would help protect first responders from being overburdened.

“Routine emissions from farms do not constitute an emergency,” Humphries said in the release. "Animal rights extremists’ efforts requiring farmers to overwhelm local first responders with unnecessary reports is dangerous. Burdening emergency response with false alarms can pull valuable resources away from a real crisis. America’s pork producers applaud Senator Fischer for bringing common sense to this long-running debate."

And National Turkey Federation president Joel Brandenberger said he wants to see swift action on this bill.

“The National Turkey Federation commends Senator Fischer for introducing a bill to make clear once and for all that air releases from animal manure are exempt from reporting under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA)," Brandenberger said in the release. "Previous administrations and Congresses believed they had settled this matter, first in 2009 and again five years ago. Congress should approve Senator Fischer’s bill swiftly so that this issue finally is resolved."

One can read the full bill here.