Thursday, February 3, 2011

Senator Franken: Minnesota dairy industry shouldn't be subject to excessive fines, regulations

Last week, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) cosponsored a bipartisan bill that would protect dairy producers and processors from excessive fines. The legislation would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize a rule to exempt milk storage facilities from repetitive, costly Spill, Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations and prevent it from fining or enforcing compliance penalties against producers and processors until they do.

“Minnesota’s dairy farmers and processors play a very important role in our state’s economy and shouldn’t be subject to excessive fines or to unnecessary regulations that hurt their competitiveness,” said Sen. Franken. “This bill restores some common sense to this regulatory process by requiring the EPA to quickly end this excessive over-regulation of our dairy industry and protects our farmers from fines until it has done so.”

Currently the EPA administers the SPCC program under the Clean Water Act to prevent discharges of oil into waterways. Because the EPA considers milk to be a non-petroleum oil due to its butterfat content, facilities handling milk, including dairy farms, may be subject to regulation under SPCC because of their milk storage capacity. In January 2009, the EPA suggested correcting this ill-advised consequence for the dairy industry but no final ruling has been made. The SPCC regulations are considered repetitive and unnecessary because milk handling operations are already subject to FDA regulation under the Grade “A” Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO), including licensing and regular facility inspections.

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