The American Farm Bureau Federation today asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia to determine that livestock and poultry farmers do not need Clean Water Act discharge permits for ordinary stormwater runoff from their farmyards. The joint motion, filed by AFBF, West Virginia Farm Bureau and West Virginia poultry farmer Lois Alt, would garner a big win for farmers nationwide if the court rules in their favor.
Today’s motion comes on the heels of the court’s April decision rejecting efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to dismiss Alt’s case in its entirety in order to avoid defending its legal position in court. This lawsuit began in 2012 when Alt challenged an EPA order demanding that she obtain a Clean Water Act discharge permit for ordinary stormwater runoff from her farmyard or face $37,500 in fines each time the stormwater came into contact with dust, feathers or small amounts of manure on the ground outside her poultry houses as a result of normal farming operations. Despite EPA’s withdrawal of the Alt order six weeks before the legal briefing was scheduled to commence, the court agreed with Farm Bureau and Alt that the case should go forward to clarify whether, as EPA contends, discharge permits are required for “ordinary precipitation runoff from a typical farmyard.”