Thursday, September 8, 2011

EPA Declares Hay A Pollutant

On the heels of "Nuisance Abatement" actions which seek to force families from their homes so counties can steal land, it looks like we have another instance where a government entity is going after the little guy.

This time it's the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which is harassing smaller farms and ranches by declaring hay a "pollutant".

In this article,
Kansas cattle feeder Mike Callicrate ... explained that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently initiated a formal enforcement action against his Kansas feedlot for, among other things, failure to store his hay in a pollution containment zone. “Now that EPA has declared hay a pollutant, every farmer and rancher that stores hay, or that leaves a broken hay bale in the field is potentially violating EPA rules and subject to an EPA enforcement action,” ...

Callicrate is permitted to handle 12,000 cattle at a time in his feedlot, which is considered a small to mid-sized feedlot in an industry now dominated by mega-feedlots...

The largest of feedlots are getting larger and Callicrate’s feedlot is among the group of small to mid-sized feedlots that are being pressured to exit the industry so beef packers and corporate feedlot owners can increase their respective capacities. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) show that 45 feedlots with one-time capacities of between 1,000 or more cattle but less than 16,000 cattle have exited the industry from 2008 to 2010.

R-CALF USA [believes] beef packers are deliberately forcing small to mid-sized feedlots out of business through unfair and abusive cattle-buying practices that effectively restrict market access for all but the largest of feedlots. ...

Callicrate’s feedlot is the perfect example. In late 1998, the nation’s largest beef packers blackballed Callicrate because he called attention to the unfair buying practices of the corporate meatpackers. Callicrate was forced to cease his feedlot operations until 2000 when he opened Ranch Foods Direct, a meat processing and distribution company in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and began marketing his own beef more directly to consumers.

I believe the EPA’s enforcement action is a premeditated effort by EPA to partner with the beef packers to finish the job the beef packer’s couldn’t do alone,” said Callicrate adding, “along with my feedlot, the EPA has filed enforcement actions against five other smaller feedlots, including one with only 400 cattle.

Callicrate said the EPA does not appear to be going after the corporate feedlots. “EPA is turning a blind eye toward the mega-feedlots that are a real risk for pollution and, instead, is antagonizing small to mid-sized family operations in an effort to help their packer-partners capture the entire live cattle supply chain away from family farm and ranch operations.

We thought the Obama Administration was going to bring about a change to the ongoing corporate control and corporate dominance that has been decimating the U.S. cattle industry. I guess we’re seeing that change right now. Rather than reduce corporate control and dominance the EPA is overtly partnering with the corporate beef packers to accelerate the exodus of sustainable, independent family operations.
Government and big corporations are working together to obliterate family farms and ranches.
This is just one example.

(H/T Linda D.)

Related article: New American


Kris Lancaster said...

EPA Never Said Hay is a Pollutant

By Karl Brooks, EPA Region 7 Administrator

A Kansas feedlot operator is trying to make hay by falsely claiming that EPA defined hay as a water pollutant.

The owner of the Callicrate Feeding Company has been spinning a “hay-as-pollutant” myth through the blogosphere for a couple of weeks now. While the company is certainly entitled to its own opinions about EPA, the company is not entitled to its own set of facts.

Here are the facts. On August 15, EPA’s Region 7, which includes Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and nine tribal nations, took action to correct several serious environmental violations at the Callicrate Feeding Company in St. Francis, Kansas. EPA found water permit violations at Callicrate’s operation that needed to be addressed. The compliance order was not based on hay. Nor would EPA have issued such an action based on hay.

To be clear: The order had nothing to do with hay. At no place in the 11-page order is the word “hay” mentioned. Nor is there mention of alfalfa or grass.

EPA cited the Callicrate operation for failure to control harmful runoff, maintain adequate manure storage capacity, keep adequate operation records, and meet the state and federal requirements of its nutrient management plan. Compliance Order (PDF) (11 pp, 1.5MB, About PDF)

EPA inspectors observed silage, and dried distillers grains within the uncontrolled feedstock storage area.

When stored inappropriately, the silage and grains can turn into a liquid material that contains contaminants detrimental to water quality. EPA inspectors also observed slaughter wastes being stored outside in an uncontrolled area. The EPA order was based on those contaminants and the other violations mentioned above.

The Callicrate facility is permitted by the State of Kansas for a capacity of 12,000 head of beef cattle and had 3,200 head at the time of the inspection. Under EPA definitions, 1,000 head of beef is considered a large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). This is not a small operation. The permitted capacity puts the company in the top five percent of the largest animal feeding operations in Region 7.

This action by EPA was issued to correct problems. Less than two weeks after the order was issued, Callicrate’s attorney informed us that the company had already taken action to address the problems identified in EPA's order.

We have some indication of how other producers have perceived this fracas in a feedlot. Region 7’s offer to meet with Kansas cattle producers to discuss CAFO enforcement was warmly received and we will be meeting within days. Drover/Cattle Network published an article debunking the “hay-as-pollutant” myth.

As that article concludes: “But as the industry confronts and negotiates these genuine regulatory issues, R-CALF’s claim that ‘EPA declares hay a pollutant to antagonize small and mid-sized U.S. cattle feeders’ is unnecessary, inflammatory hyperbole.”

Brooks is administrator for U.S. EPA Region 7 that includes Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and nine tribal nations.

Judy Aron said...

Still sounds to me like this particular rancher is being harassed... which doesn't surprise me in the least.