The U.S. EPA said on Nov. 15 that it had reached an agreement with the National Pork Producers Council whereby hog farmers would voluntarily undergo environmental inspections to avoid costly fines for violations.
Participating pork producers who have their farms inspected under the NPPC's EPA-approved odor and water-quality assessment program would be liable to a maximum penalty or flat fine of no more than US$40,000 for any Clean Water Act violations discovered and corrected. Under current conditions, farmers can be fined up to $27,000 a day for violations.
The program, according to the agency, will help to reduce environmental and public-health threats to the nation's waterways attributable to animal waste at pork-producing operations.
The EPA and the NPPCalong with state regulators and the U.S. Department of Agriculturehave been discussing environmental standards for hog farms since 1997.
The NPPC has established a team of farm inspectors, also approved by the EPA. The team members include public employees, engineers, university faculty and private consultants.
Officials hope to see more than 12,000 farms participate in the program during the next three years.
The NPPC reportedly is paying for the program with check-off fees that hog farmers contribute.