A poultry industry representative told a House Agriculture Subcommittee that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should recognize the poultry industry’s tools and programs that are improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and across the nation.

Hobey Bauhan, president of Virginia Poultry Federation, told the Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry that family poultry farms in Virginia for more than a decade have expanded their conservation practices to enhance water quality.

“The results of these actions are reflected in EPA’s estimates that between 1985 and 2005 nutrient loads from agriculture decreased to the Chesapeake Bay, while nutrient loadings from developed lands increased by 16 percent,” Bauhan said.

Representing Virginia Poultry Federation, National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, Bauhan told committee members that heavy-handed federal mandates are unnecessary because states have adopted effective regulations to improve water quality. Virginia has adopted some of the most expansive manure management regulations in the country for poultry farms, he said. Nevertheless, EPA is setting sweeping and unprecedented federal mandates aimed at agriculture under its Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) program.

Bauhan also criticized EPA’s approach to setting TMDL targets. “EPA’s TMDL targets are based on flawed modeling assumptions about manure management practices,” Bauhan said. “In one instance, the agency estimated that 15 percent of all manure from poultry farms is lost during storage and runs off into waterways in the Chesapeake. That number has no basis in actual practice and grossly exaggerates EPA’s estimated loadings of litter run-off from poultry farms.”

Bauhan said EPA should focus on what actually works and what is economically feasible.

“Imposing burdensome mandates based on questionable data only imposes more costs, paperwork and burdens on family farmers, while achieving few real benefits for water quality,” Bauhan said.

Bauhan’s testimony is available on the House Committee on Agriculture’s website, http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/hearingDetails.aspx?NewsID=1332.

Source: National Turkey Federation