SPRINGFIELD/WASHINGTON (Illinois News Network) — The proposed Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act gives farmers one less regulation to follow and one less burden to bear.

Under the FARM Act, which was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate, farmers nationwide would be exempt from having to report emissions from the natural process of manure breaking down on their land and one expert said that’s a good thing.

Tasha Bunting, the assistant director of Commodities and Livestock for the Illinois Farm Bureau, said she supports this bipartisan bill, which intends to protect farmers from being burdened by unnecessary reporting.

“If the act is not passed, farmers would be required to report manure emissions for anything over 100 parts per million for ammonia and that would impact nationwide, over 100,000 farmers,” Bunting said.

The FARM Act falls under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which became a law in 1980, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

CERCLA requires sites like landfills and mines to notify authorities when they release large quantities of hazardous materials.

“The original intention was not to regulate farms,” Bunting said. “It was for Superfund sites and places with toxic chemicals.  It was never intended to regulate farmers and agricultural places.”

Bunting said many farmers had difficulties reporting air emissions under CERCLA.

The process for maintaining and figuring out the actual breakdown of manure emission is difficult, according to Bunting.

“Some of the tables and functions that they (farmers) were sharing are outdated, and so it was going to take a little bit of re-figuring and trying to estimate what those actual numbers would be,” Bunting said.

Bunting believes this bill is a positive step forward for Illinois farmers.

“The FARM Act that has been introduced would exempt them (farmers) from the reporting mechanism, yet still have the farmers continue making improvement on farms to protect the air and water quality,” Bunting said.

Illinois News Network and their reporters represent Illinois as the taxpayers' watchdog, exposing the way government really works in Springfield.

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