UEP asks EPA to halt non-emergency compliance or enforcement visits to farms

March 26, 2020

Last week UEP requested the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) halt all non-emergency compliance or enforcement visits to farms during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter to the EPA was signed by six other animal agriculture organizations and the American Farm Bureau Federation.  The reason for this action was to help halt the spread of the virus to workers at layer operations, protecting their health, safety and welfare.

Specifically, the letter asks that “EPA issue a ‘no action’ assurance, suspending site inspections of Clean Water Act 402 permitted agricultural operations to protect the safety of critical infrastructure workforce employees, including farm workers.”  EPA has a longstanding policy during emergencies that allows the agency to offer such assurances where it is “clearly necessary to serve the public interest and which no other mechanism can adequately address the concern.“ EPA took similar action during the recent H5N1 outbreak in order to protect the biosecurity of layer and other animal agriculture operations.  As of this writing, EPA has not issued the requested COVID-19 “no action” assurance.