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September 24, 2009   Email to Friend 

Darryal Ray
(334) 613-4187
September 24, 2009

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Alabama farming operations will not be required to report greenhouse gas emissions under mandatory reporting rules issued this week by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but the consequences of those rules could adversely affect cow-calf and stocker producers in Alabama.

"The EPA estimates that only 107 livestock operations, mainly big feedlots, dairies and swine operations, would be affected by this rule nationwide," said Guy Hall, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation's Dairy, Poultry and Pork Divisions. "Those operations must report greenhouse gas emissions annually whereas power plants must report on a quarterly basis. Still, we have concerns with any rules that affect agriculture. We are concerned that these new rules will make our livestock industry less competitive with other countries that do not have similar environmental rules."

Perry Mobley, director of the Federation's Beef Division, said the large feedlots out West would likely fall under the mandatory reporting requirements, and complying with those rules will drive up costs. That, he said, is almost certain to have a negative effect on cow-calf and stocker producers throughout the United States, including Alabama.

The new EPA rule applies only to emissions from manure management systems. Emissions from other sources will not be counted toward a threshold level that is set for each livestock category and is based on "average animal populations" and average time animals are at the facility.

The threshold levels are: beef, 29,300 head; dairy, 3,200 head; swine, 34,100 head; poultry layers, 723,600; poultry broilers, 38,160,000; and turkeys, 7,710,000. Below those levels, producers need not report.

Hall said the concern is that the 25,000-ton limit could be lowered and permitting fees increased over time amid pressure from environmental activists.

Another concern, Hall said, is that the information gathered by the mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases will some day be used to develop cap-and-trade penalties for livestock operations once climate change legislation is enacted.

Reporting requirements begin January 2010. For more information, visit www.EPA.gov/climatechange.

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