Letter to the Editor

Superfund status for our farms?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

To the editor:

Times Beach and Love Canal are often remembered as two of the worst toxic-waste sites in U.S. history. Our nation's livestock and poultry farms could be listed among them if a federal district court rules that animal manure is a hazardous substance.

The Oklahoma attorney general has filed suit against poultry integrators claiming that animal manure and its components are hazardous substances and should be regulated under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, better known as Superfund. This federal law was enacted to provide for the cleanup of industrial toxic waste sites. It was never intended to apply to the farms where livestock and poultry are raised or the fields, pastures, yards and gardens where animal manure is spread as a natural fertilizer.

Agricultural operations are already regulated under the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and other federal and state laws. Subjecting nearly every farm and ranch -- large and small -- to liabilities and penalties under the Superfund law is not warranted and is yet another attack on family farmers and animal agriculture.

U.S. senators Kit Bond and Jim Talent have joined a bipartisan group of legislators in cosponsoring a bill to clarify that Superfund law does not apply to animal manure. I hope other congressional leaders use common sense and support this legislation too. If Congress fails to act and the federal court rules against agriculture, the livelihood of farm and ranch families as well as our nation's livestock industry will be in jeopardy.

CHARLES E. KRUSE, President, Missouri Farm Bureau, Jefferson City, Mo.