The EPA is threatening to fine a West Virginia chicken farmer $37,500 every single time it rains. Lois Alt has been farming pretty much all of her life. She is used to battling bad weather, fluctuating poultry prices, and loss of livestock, but she may now be in the fight for her very existence. Alt owns Eight is Enough poultry farm in Old Fields.
The Environmental Protection Agency believes that feathers, farm manure, rain water drainage, and even old fashioned and all-natural dust on Lois Alt’s West Virginia farm are contaminating the environment. The new stance by the EPA could potentially impact thousands of American farmers and ultimately put them out of business. The new regulations come as a result of the Clean Water Act.
American Farm Bureau Federation attorney Danielle Quist had this to say about the EPA threats chicken farmers are now facing:
“The EPA conducted a training inspection for new inspectors on Lois Alt’s farm in 2012. A few months later she got a letter telling her that she was violating the Clean Water Act. She was told that she had to go get a federal permit due to the feathers and dust on her farm. She was shocked. She runs a very clean farm. Once you have a federal permit you invited EPA into your backyard. Most farmers work with their states and local extension officers. Most farmers, particularly small farmers like Lois Alt, do not work with the EPA. They speak an entirely different language, it’s a very heavy handed approach.”
EPA officials claim that high levels of nitrogen in her chicken’s waste were fouling waterways. She is fighting back in the federal court of the Northern District of West Virginia. Although the EPA has at least temporarily dropped the $37,500 fine threat, the Clean Water Act case remains on the docket. The West Virginia farmer’s attorney are arguing that the EPA is wrong to deny small farms like hers Clean Water Act’s statutory exemption for agricultural stormwater. Big farms reportedly get the rain runoff exemption.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman had this to say about Alt and the Clean Water Act:
“Mrs. Alt has courageously taken on EPA not just for her own benefit, but for the benefit of other farmers. She refused to back down from her principles despite the best efforts of EPA and environmental groups.”
A Delaware study raised the possibility that many small farmers have been wrongly fined for polluting the ecosystem in the past, a fact that has increased farmer suspicions of EPA inspectors.
Do you think the EPA has garnered too much control over property rights and the way farmers conduct business?