Today, U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, announced his cosponsorship of S.104, a bipartisan bill requiring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize a proposed rule to exempt dairy farms, processors and distributors from the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure program (SPCC). Senator Kohl heard concerns about this regulation from constituents and groups from across the state, including the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation and the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association.
"The dairy industry is already regulated at the state and federal level. EPA regulation of dairy operations is unnecessary, redundant, and will be costly for farmers and processors to meet," said Kohl. "As a businessman, I know that uncertainty about regulations can be harmful to business efficiency and profitability. Everyone can agree that milk and oil are different, and the regulations should reflect that. I understand that the EPA is working on this issue, and I urge them act sooner rather than later."
The SPCC program requires that businesses create plans for managing oil spills, with the goal of preventing spills and minimizing the damage should a spill occur. SPCC enforcement is limited to oil stored in large quantities -- 1,320 gallons or more. However, because milk contains animal fat -- which is included in the definition of "oil" under the Clean Water Act -- some dairy farmers and processors will be subject to EPA regulation. These dairy businesses are already regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration's Grade "A" Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) which requires frequent inspection of milk tanks. Understanding that the existing FDA regulation is sufficient, the EPA proposed exempting milk containers from the SPCC in January 2009. However, that rule has not been finalized. S.104 would compel the EPA to finish the rule, giving dairy businesses the certainty that they will not be regulated.