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POLICY WATCH

EPA Labels PFOS a “Hazardous Substance”

On August 26, 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed rule that would designate PFOA and PFOS, the most commonly used chemicals in the PFAS family, as a “hazardous substance” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)— also known as the “Superfund” law. American Farm Bureau Federation staff is thoroughly reviewing the pre-published rule to identify areas that may impact the agriculture industry. Farm Bureau is continuing to review the rule to fully determine its impact on farmers and ranchers.

What is PFOA and PFOS? The PFOA and PFOS chemicals have largely been phased out, but historically were used in many consumer goods and firefighting foam and were the main components of water, oil, and stain repellants. They were used in products such as Teflon, Goretex, and Scotchguard. Many everyday items such as clothing, cookware, and food packaging materials contain PFAS chemicals. Recent science shows that these compounds do not breakdown in water and are persistent in the environment – they are referred to as the “forever chemicals.” Due to their inability to break down, these chemicals have been identified as a source of water contamination. Unfortunately, some health studies suggest exposure to PFAS chemicals are associated with cancer diagnoses, infant development disorders, and endocrine and cholesterol disorders. Federal and state governments are now attempting to create an extensive regulatory regime to limit human exposure.

What is CERCLA? CERCLA is the federal statute that provides a Federal “Superfund” to clean up uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous-waste sites as well as accidents, spills, and other emergency releases of pollutants and contaminants into the environment. Through CERCLA, EPA was given power to seek out those parties responsible for any release and assure their cooperation in the cleanup. CERCLA imposes liability on parties responsible for, in whole or in part, the presence of hazardous substances at a site.

Why does AFBF care? The agricultural community does not produce PFOA or PFOS; however, these chemicals can be found in the water that producers provide to their livestock and crops. In certain areas of the country, PFAS levels have risen in milk, beef, and row crops. Another source of PFAS contamination on our nation’s farms comes from soil amendments (biosolids, paper byproducts). For decades, farmers have been encouraged to use biosolids to support their soil health and, as a result, have been unknowingly spreading PFAS on to their property. Farmers are passively receiving PFAS chemicals and should not be held liable or lose their property values due to PFAS contamination.

Rep. Flood to Host Mobile Office Hours

Congressman Mike Flood announced that district staff will host mobile office hours in Bellevue on November 2, 2022, 1:00-4:00 PM CT at City Administrative Offices, 1510 Wall Street, Bellevue, Neb. This is a great opportunity for grassroots engagement from Farm Bureau members. Additional mobile office hours and locations will be announced in the coming weeks.

Policy Forum Registration Open

The 2022 Nebraska Farm Bureau Policy Forum on Nov. 17 will be held as a virtual and in-person event. To participate virtually, county leaders will need to join via Zoom webinar. *Zoom training is available if requested.

ALL participants who are ONLY going to attend virtually will NEED to register by Tues., Nov. 15 for the event.

Through the Zoom webinar and in-person meeting, members will be able to provide comments on resolutions summitted by their County Farm Bureau. Comments from county representatives will be limited to three minutes per issue/resolution, not including questions from the State Legislative Policy Subcommittee (SLPC).

There will not be a straw poll taken on individual resolutions again this year.

When there are no additional comments on the issue/resolution, the chair of the subcommittee will move on to the next issues/resolution.

Policy resolutions will be posted to the webpage on Nov. 11.

Low Mississippi River Water Levels Threaten Grain Shipments, Spur Record Rates

With harvest well under way across the country, one method of transportation that has been largely spared from recent supply chain snarls has run aground, literally. Limited rains across the Midwest and South have dropped the water level on the Mississippi River, a major thoroughfare for moving grain, to levels too shallow for many barges to effectively navigate. Farm Bureau’s Market Intel dives into the available statistics to understand the possible wide-reaching impacts of continued barge slowdowns.

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