The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) unveiling of the new rules for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) last week raised the cost of business about $150 million for affected producers, says the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). Even the EPA concedes this price tag.

“These new standards will increase the economic and regulatory burden on the dairy industry and reduce the ability of some producers to stay in business,” says Jerry Kozak, president and CEO of NMPF. A majority of the cost will stem from nutrient planning, facility upgrades, land application, technology improvements and the legal and other expenses associated with the permitting process.

Still, the rules are not as expensive as those initially proposed at the beginning of the CAFO regulation process. “Many dairy producers have been doing significant work to reduce their farm’s environmental impact,” says Kozak. “However, this final regulation is not as problematic as the initial draft of the CAFO regulation, so we are relieved that the EPA and USDA have mitigated some of the more onerous approaches they were first pursuing.”

The complicated rule changes affect an estimated 3,400 dairy producers — 1,500 because they have 700 cows or more. The other 1,900 smaller operations fall under regulation of the Clean Water Act because they are located in geographic areas that require more stringent regulation. Additionally the rule updates effluent limitation guidelines for all existing and new permit holders.

On the plus side, producers may still tap into the Natural Resources Conservation Service for expertise in nutrient planning, and obtain NRCS field guidance to make it easier to be eligible for Farm Bill assistance —like the EQIP program — and other conservation programs while working to meet the new regulations.

Source: National Milk Producers Federation