Environmental Compliance for Agricultural Producers (Part 2)

In our last post regarding environmental compliance for our State’s food producers, the focus was on the agricultural industry’s reliance on clean water for their crops and how they are maintaining that water during production. 

Unfortunately, water is not the only concern for a farmer or rancher who is focused on ensuring that their business (and industry!) is healthy. Fuel tanks to power pumps and vehicles, and agrochemicals used to maintain a healthy crop, are everyday necessities for those in agriculture. Ensuring that they comply with the numerous Federal and State regulations can be challenging during production, when the focus is on good yields.

Many farms and ranches use fuel tanks in their operation, regardless of the operation’s size, especially when a maintenance facility is present. The larger tanks are registered with the State’s Department of Environmental Regulation (DEP), and must be inspected monthly and annually. On top of the State inspections, Federal regulations are also required to be followed.  Title 40, Chapter 1, Subchapter D, Part 112 of the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR 112) has been written to ensure that all facilities with fuel tanks that meet certain criteria have a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan in place to protect personnel and the environment from the dangers of petroleum-containing tanks.  Having an SPCC plan in place is a good risk management practice for farming locations.

Although the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been reviewing the applicability of the 40 CFR 112 on agricultural lands in recent years, until the determination is promulgated, farmers are required to follow the requirements.

As noted in Part 1 of the blog, most farmers are familiar with water use and water quality concerns.  However, fuel tank inspections and other such related regulatory-compliance matters may not be in their wheelhouse—and environmental consultants, such as ERMI, are able to assist.  Our firm has written a number of SPCC plans for facilities of various sizes across a number of industries. We are knowledgeable about 40 CFR 112 and are available to answer questions relating to the impacts of having a good SPCC plan in place for farming operations.