The proposed legislation–to be voted on Feb. 22–would make water quality permits optional for many Tennessee livestock farms
The Tennessee legislature has proposed a bill that would allow many livestock farms to operate without state water quality permits. The proposed bill would exempt all but the largest farms from mandatory permits, instead turning water quality permits voluntary for most medium-sized farms. Additionally, all poultry farms with dry waste would be exempt from mandatory permits.
The proposed bill will be voted in the House on Thursday, Feb. 22 and is expected to pass. According to The Tennessean, agricultural accounts for 10% of the Tennessee economy and the proposed bill has industry support. Last year state lawmakers passed similar legislation that deregulated factory farms by decreasing the state permitting system for concentrated animal feeding operations.
Under the new proposed bill, water quality permits for medium to small sized solid waste producing farms would become voluntary. While the deregulation received support from farming industry leaders, environmental advocates fear the potential impact on Tennessee water quality.
“We’re concerned that manure and liquid waste that aren’t permitted are going to end up in our streams,” said Scott Banbury of the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club.