Pork Producers Clean Water Act Compliance Incentive Program
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) have agreed to a comprehensive Clean Water Act Compliance Audit Program (CAP). The NPPC, which represents pork producers nationally, plans to have independent auditors conduct more than 10,000 of the audits nationwide to improve environmental management practices and assure compliance with the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act CAP provides incentives for pork producers to undertake voluntary comprehensive on-farm environment assessments by greatly reducing penalties for any Clean Water Act violations that are promptly disclosed and corrected under this program.
This program was developed after the NPPC approached EPA to propose an environmental assessment program for the industry. The NPPC developed a omprehensive and rigorous evaluation process for reviewing pork production facilities that is designed to assure the protection of our nation's waterways by improving environmental protection controls at pork farms throughout the United States.
This compliance audit program is the result of an agreement between EPA and the NPPC that provides reasonable incentives for pork producers without compromising EPA's and the States' ability to enforce the law consistently and appropriately. The program demonstrates how government and industry can come together to find practical and resourceful solutions for reducing waste runoff into our nation's rivers, lakes and streams.
Voluntary Compliance Audit Program
- The CAP program is open to all pork producers in the country, but excludes slaughterhouses, pork processing and packing facilities, or areas of ancillary operations such as equipment or feed storage or cropland--other than cropland used for land application of swine waste. Participation in either the NPPC audits or the CAP program itself is voluntary.
- Producers with existing pork production facilities must register for the voluntary CAP Agreement by Sept. 30, 2001. For facilities that are completed after Sept. 30, 2001, producers must register by Sept. 30, 2003. Pork producers who want to register for the program can contact their local pork producers' organization or the National Pork Producers Council, at (515) 223-2600.
- These audits will be conducted by trained and certified independent inspectors at no cost to producers, and according to a comprehensive and public protocol. The program was developed by NPPC at a cost of $1.5 million with millions more to be spent on training assessors and overseeing the program. EPA has provided a $5 million grant to America's Clean Water Foundation to assist with the voluntary assessments.
- Participating pork producers must identify and report Clean Water Act violations within 120 days of the start of an assessment, and complete corrective action within specified timetables. For example, the CAP Agreement provides for 60-90 days for correcting operating and maintenance violations, and one year where additional waste storage or disposal capacity is needed.
- For a pork producer to be eligible for the CAP Agreement, the auditor must report that the audit was conducted properly according to the protocol. Producers must certify that the report to EPA is complete and accurate, and an auditor or licensed engineer must certify that the correction is complete.
- Producers that report and correct violations within the timetable and otherwise comply with the CAP Agreement are eligible for reduced penalties. Penalties are based on economic benefit, range from $1,000 to $10,000 for violations resulting in a discharged, and are capped at no more than $40,000 per facility. These penalties can be reduced further for early correction, and EPA retains flexibility under existing policies to waive them where circumstances require it.
- EPA will consult with any State to assure participating pork producers have complied with the terms of the CAP Agreement. A State may elect to administer the CAP Agreement; in those cases, EPA would refer any CWA violation disclosures to the State for consideration and response under the terms of the CAP Agreement.
- The NPPC will award special seals to pork producers who have the voluntary environmental assessment performed, and promptly report and correct any CWA violations discovered. The seal may be withdrawn if a pork producer is found to be in violation of the CWA.
- This CAP is limited to Clean Water Act violations, although States may wish to adapt it for other requirements.
- The CAP Agreement would not apply to violations already discovered by EPA or a State, or which are the subject of a citizen suit action.
- Reduced penalties are available only for those violations that are reported and corrected under the CAP Agreement. The program reserves EPA's ability to pursue injunctive relief when there is a discharge and where there is an "imminent and substantial" endangerment under section 504 of the Clean Water Act, and reserves EPA's ability to recommend prosecution for criminal conduct. EPA may impose penalties and seek all other available remedies where a pork producer fails to comply with the CAP Agreement. The program does not relieve the producer from its obligations to comply with all CWA permits, regulations and other applicable environmental laws and regulations.
- This environmental auditing and enforcement program will help protect the public health and the nation's rivers from waste runoff. Corrective measures will be taken to address discharges and other National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit violations.
- More than 10,000 pork production facilities, including most of the large pork farms in the U.S., are planned to have on-farm assessments. Audited farms are likely to account for about 80 percent of U.S. pork production.
- The CAP program potentially exceeds what EPA has the resources to do otherwise, and will disclose violations that EPA may not have discovered otherwise.
- The program brings facilities within the regulatory system and potentially provides important information on facilities. The program will educate pork producers about corrective measures to address violations and prevent future violations.
The links below are to the press releases and other documents related to the pork producers cases.
- Press Release (11/25/98)
For additional information about the Pork Producers Clean Water Act Compliance Incentive Program, contact EPA Headquarters Water Enforcement Division at (202) 564-2240. For information about EPA's Audit Policy, contact Leslie Jones at (202) 564-5123, firstname.lastname@example.org.