Proposed EPA Rule Shuts Down Small Meat Producers

American’s Would Lose the Choice to Buy Local Meats

On January 23, 2024, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new rule that will bring 3,879 meat and poultry products (MPP) processing facilities under their jurisdiction.

The new rule proposes a change for the technology-based effluent limitations guidelines and standards (ELGs) for the meat and poultry industry threatening their livelihoods by forcing them to add water filtration systems to their facilities. 

What does this mean to small meat processing facilities?  It’s been reported that the initial cost to install a water filtration system bringing them into compliance be $300,000-400,000 with a minimum of $100,000 annual maintenance.  This would force many small meat processing facilities to shutter their doors. 

It is also a direct attack on the buy local foods movement.  If local meat producers no longer have a nearby facility to process the meat, they will no longer be able to provide their product direct to the customer at food markets or online.

The EPA initially promulgated the MPP ELGs in 1974 and amended them in 2004.  Currently, they only apply to approximately 150 of the 5,055 MPP facilities in the industry.  But, in the EPA’s Benefit Cost Analysis, they state that “EPA estimates the regulatory options potentially affect 3,879 MPP facilities.”

Accordingly, the history of EPA’s regulation of MPP effluent guidelines and standards has never extended beyond direct discharge facilities and this rule significantly expands their regulatory reach. 

The Kansas Natural Resource Coalition (KNRC) filed comments opposing the proposed rule and was joined by other county coalitions and American Stewards of Liberty.  KNRC, an organization of 30 Kansas counties, states these proposed rules will “regulate indirect discharge facilities” that “departs from constitutional and statutory authority” significantly altering the balance between state and federal powers. 

They also state that the proposal “gives priority to environmental justice goals and emphasizes ecological benefits, but the EPA jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act is not based on ecological importance or environmental justice.”

EPA Federal Register Notice of Proposed Rule

KNRC Filed Comments