BUDGET CUTS FORCE FARMERS TO PAY ADEM FEES
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Some Alabama farmers may begin paying environmental license fees to the State of Alabama as early as Oct. 1 because of shortfalls in the state budget.
Farmers enrolled in Animal Feeding Operations (AFO) and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) programs will pay a registration fee when they register their farms with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). This marks the first time farmers will pay the fee since the registration process began in 2000.
ADEM could begin collecting these registration fees as early as Oct. 1, the beginning of fiscal year 2012.
There are 547 farms registered under the CAFO program in 47 counties in Alabama.
The Legislature appropriated $350,000 to ADEM each year from 2000-2008 to offset CAFO registration permit fees that farmers would have been charged.
Appropriations to offset the fees have decreased each year since 2009.
Money for farmer CAFO registration permits originally was eliminated from the 2012 budget, but legislators approved $150,173 to help farmers pay portions of the fees.
"The Farmers Federation and the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association worked to restore $150,173 for these registration permits," said Guy Hall, director of the Dairy, Pork and Poultry Divisions of the Alabama Farmers Federation. "ADEM has agreed to use the $150,173 and other appropriations to reduce the amount of money farmers will have to pay for CAFO registration fees in 2012."
"We appreciate all of the hard work our legislators have done during this difficult economic time in our state," Hall said. "Our organization will continue to seek state and federal funding to help farmers finance these environmental mandates."
In December the fees will also increase 19 percent. This means most AFO/CAFO annual registration fees will increase $40--$335, depending on the size of the farm.
The last permit fee increase was in January 2008. ADEM has indicated that even after the 19 percent increase, permit fees in Alabama will still be among the lowest in the nation.
With the 19 percent increase, CAFO annual registration fees will be:
• 1--999 Animal Units: $405
• 1,000--1,499 Animal Units: $775
• 1,500--1,999 Animal Units: $1,145
• 2,000 or more Animal Units: $1,515
AFO registration fees will be $250.
These amounts are the base fees; after the reductions from appropriations are applied, they will decrease.
ADEM states the increase in fees is necessary to offset the $2 million (32 percent) cut from its budget for fiscal year 2012.
The Farmers Federation encourages its members to submit written comments and inquiries to: ADEM Hearing Officer, Office of General Counsel, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, P.O. Box 301463, Montgomery, AL 36130 or by email at email@example.com.
Farmers also have the opportunity to attend a hearing about the permit fee increases Sept. 21 at 10 a.m. in the Main Hearing Room at the ADEM Central Office at 1400 Coliseum Blvd. in Montgomery.
ADEM officials will accept data, views and arguments from farmers regarding the proposed new rules. Attendance at the meeting is not required to submit information, but written information must be submitted to the hearing officer by 5 p.m. Sept. 21.
Russell Kelly, ADEM chief of permits and services division, is available at (334) 271-7715 to answer any questions about the commenting process.
Copies of the proposed rules are available online at www.adem.alabama.gov/newsEvents/pubHearings.cnt.
Guy Hall is also available at (334) 612-5181 or firstname.lastname@example.org to answer questions.