Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

AAQTF January 2002 Meeting Minutes

Minutes from the January 16-17, 2002 AAQTF meeting in Phoenix, AZ.

USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force

Meeting Minutes

January 16, 2002

Embassy Suites Hotel Phoenix-Scottsdale

4415 East Paradise Village Parkway South

Phoenix, Arizona 85032

Members present:

Viney Aneja                                         Wayne Robarge

Bob Avant                                            Kevin Rogers

Emmett Barker                                     Annette Sharp

Mark Boese                                         Sally Shaver

Tom Coleman                                       John Sweeten

Manuel Cunha                                      Jim Trotter

Bob Flocchini                                       Michael Unsworth

Kelley Green                                        Phil Wakelyn

Roger Isom                                          Stephanie Whalen

Calvin Parnell                                      

Pearlie Reed, Chair


Other NRCS Support Staff:

Beth Sauerhaft (Designated Federal Official)

John Beyer                                           Jeff Schmidt

John Brenner                                        Ray Sinclair

Elvis Graves                                         Roel Vining

Gary Margheim                                   


Other EPA Support Staff:

Robin Dunkins, Phil Lorang, Randy Waite


Other Federal Personnel:

Dick Amerman, ARS, NHQ                 Jean-Mari Peltier, EPA, NHQ

Tom Christensen, NRCS, MD              John Pemberton, EPA, NHQ

Ray Knighton, CSREES, NHQ            Mike Somerville, NRCS, AZ


Public Citizens:

George Bluhm, California Food and Agriculture

Brett Cameron, Arizona Department of Agriculture

Jeannette Fish, Maricopa County Farm Bureau

Mark Janssen, Midwest Regional Planning Organization

Theresa Pella, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality


The Agricultural Air Quality Task Force meeting was called to order by Beth Sauerhaft, who briefly reviewed various procedures and FACA rules. Task Force Chairman Pearlie Reed then welcomed everyone and thanked the hosts from Arizona for the outstanding tour the previous day.

Sally Shaver introduced the guests from EPA including Jean-Mari Peltier, Agricultural Advisor to the EPA Administrator, and John Pemberton, Chief of Staff to Jeff Holmestead, Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation. Both gave introductory comments.

Ms. Peltier said that EPA’s Agriculture office is creating an inventory of both regulatory and non-regulatory areas where EPA interests intersect with the interests of the agricultural community. They are examining the organization of the regional offices and the interaction with the agricultural community at the regional level.  The Agriculture Office is considering designating a lead region within EPA for dealing with the agricultural community and having a single point for budget and funding considerations. The Agriculture Office is also focusing on continued implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act and on interactions with USDA on transition-related issues related to pesticide regulations.

Following general introductions, Chairman Reed turned the meeting over to Kevin Rogers, who welcomed everyone to Arizona. Mr. Rogers thanked the American Farm Bureau Federation, Arizona Farm Bureau, Arizona Cotton Growers, and Kelley Green with the Texas Cotton Ginners for providing funding for the coffee breaks for the meeting.

Mr. Rogers announced that EPA approved Maricopa County’s implementation plan, so as of January 1, 2002, farmers and ranchers in Maricopa County are operating under a voluntary BMP program. Mike Somerville, the NRCS State Conservationist for Arizona, then shared a few thoughts about the BMP program and continuing research.

Next, Kevin Rogers introduced Brett Cameron from the Arizona Department of Agriculture who gave a presentation on agriculture in his state including the Agricultural Consultation and Training Program - a free, non-regulatory service that is driven by requests from growers and ranchers for assistance with compliance issues.

The next item of business was approval of the minutes of the July 2001 meeting in Denver. Phil Wakelyn moved to postpone review of those minutes until the following day to allow more time to make corrections. The motion was seconded. Chairman Reed called for the question; the motion passed. The Chair appointed Bob Avant to work with Beth Sauerhaft to edit the minutes further.

Mr. Avant, Chair of the Follow-Up Subcommittee, told the Task Force that he had identified sixteen follow-up items from the July meeting, and Dr. Sauerhaft distributed that list. Calvin Parnell asked the Task Force to take time to review one of the action items on the list, emission reduction credits for agriculture, because the proposed emissions credit program would come up for action the following day. Phil Wakelyn distributed two draft white papers, one on particulate monitoring and the other on dispersion modeling, that would also be discussed the next day.

Before proceeding with the agenda, Chairman Reed recognized George Bluhm, who retired from NRCS in the fall, and presented him with a gold clock in appreciation of his contributions to the USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force.

Next, Sally Shaver updated the committee on EPA’s work on agriculture issues. She distributed some information on health and welfare and on the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Scientific Assessment, and then she spoke briefly about EPA’s Agriculture strategy. Staff members throughout the agency are working together to develop an approach for dealing with agricultural communities. Their vision statement includes fully instituting policies and practices to ensure that farming and land management communities consider air quality an integral part of resource management. They also want to work on greater coordination between USDA and EPA programs to better serve the agricultural community and the public. Ms. Shaver stressed that EPA is not trying to recreate or reinvent anything with their Ag. strategy; rather, they wish to tap into and rely on the agricultural expertise that is in the land grant universities, USDA, and other federal agriculture agencies.

The three basic elements of the strategy will be scientific assessment, outreach and education, and implementation and compliance, which would include an appropriate mix of voluntary and regulatory programs. EPA will set certain air quality targets and then, with support and help from USDA and the agriculture community, create mitigation strategies that the ag community will willingly adopt, and develop ways to track and monitor emissions so as to demonstrate the success of these programs. EPA hopes to finalize their ag strategy in the next few months, thereby allowing for the use of USDA programs and practices to meet air quality concerns.

Ms. Shaver updated the Task Force on other current “hot-topic issues” within EPA. With respect to CAFOs, the National Academy of Science initiative is underway, and a few of the Task Force members are on the committee that is reviewing the documents. They expect an interim report out in the spring and a final NAS report at the end of 2002. Once the final report is out, EPA will use the results of the study to issue some sort of policy on animal feeding operations. Other areas that Ms. Shaver discussed were the joint development of a fire database with USDA and the Department of the Interior; air toxics and the petition for listing hydrogen sulfide; health issues associated with CAFOs; a draft voluntary compliance policy to address Title I SIP requirements; National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM) and ozone; and fugitive emissions.

Phil Wakelyn asked if the Ag. strategy would be addressing how best to apply the Clean Air Act to farms and other agricultural entities that really are neither fixed facilities nor mobile sources, and Ms. Shaver said yes.

Bob Avant requested copies of any written documents EPA produces concerning their Ag. strategy, and Ms. Shaver agreed to provide them to the Task Force once they are finalized.

Mr. Avant added that one of the items on the Task Force’s follow-up list is developing a clear definition of agriculture. Since a clear definition is important for EPA’s regulation of the Clean Air Act, as well as for the Farm Bill, Mr. Avant suggested creating a subcommittee to work on a good definition for agriculture.

Roger Isom asked Ms. Shaver if EPA is developing the voluntary compliance policy beyond the draft policy that the Task Force approved at their last meeting, or if they are starting to implement the policy and define the backstops. Ms. Shaver replied that the Task Force had recommended a set of principles and had requested that EPA develop a policy around that set of principles, which they are now doing. The primary goal of the policy will be to allow SIP credits for certain agricultural practices. Ms. Shaver added that there is a renewed commitment within EPA to complete the policy and get it implemented soon.

Manuel Cunha related that the Title V Subcommittee had been scheduled to meet with Jeff Holmestead, Jean-Mari Peltier, and many others at EPA to start the process of looking at agriculture with respect to the Clean Air Act. Unfortunately, that meeting was canceled due to the events of September 11, 2001. Mr. Cunha requested that the Title V Subcommittee, as well as the Voluntary Compliance Subcommittee, now move forward quickly with their charges and with developing the definition of agriculture. Chairman Reed asked the respective chairs of those two subcommittees to report back the following day on their plans to pick up on what was agreed in the previous meetings.

As Co-Chair of the Voluntary Compliance Subcommittee, Calvin Parnell offered Sally Shaver whatever assistance he could give to get the voluntary compliance program implemented as soon as possible. Dr. Parnell also suggested that the Task Force consider forming a subcommittee to work with EPA and Ms. Shaver to develop some mechanism to properly address the issues of what is measured with FRM, PM10 and PM2.5 samplers, and how to use dispersion modeling and acts at the property line. He also clarified that SIP credits are not the same as emission credits for reducing some pollutant from a particular individual operation.

In response to Dr. Parnell, Ms. Shaver said that EPA cannot implement the PM2.5 standard until they get the final standard in place, or come out with the new proposal and finalize that standard in response to the lawsuits. She thought it timely that people now discuss how to implement the standard, and what would be appropriate for agriculture.

Viney Aneja noted that the document dealing with health information for emissions from animal feeding operations cited numerous pollutants to be evaluated. He asked Ms. Shaver if airborne pathogens are included in the “Others” category. Ms. Shaver answered that EPA is not necessarily going out and looking for the pathogens, but if there is some work that has been done and there is some information on pathogens, then clearly they would like to know about it.

As a panel member for the NAS study, Wayne Robarge commented that the study is a contract between EPA and the National Academy, so no document can be released by the panel until it has gone through Academy review. Once these reviews are complete, the document will be shared with the Task Force. Dr. Robarge also applauded EPA’s willingness to reach out to the farming community, and he suggested that EPA work closely with the land grant institutions, especially at the director levels.

Stephanie Whalen inquired about the progress being made on residue burning and regional haze issues. Ms. Shaver said that the five Regional Planning Organizations (RPOs) will be dealing with regional haze issues across the state and tribal boundaries, and addressing how fire emissions will be part of that effort. EPA will not be dictating to any of these RPOs how they should deal with fire in their states because the agency believes the burning and haze issues are more appropriately dealt with at the state and regional levels. Ms. Shaver added that EPA’s interim fire policy does state very clearly that the agency supports the appropriate use of fire in ecosystem and land management.

Robert Flocchini expanded a bit on Wayne Robarge’s earlier comments about the NAS study, adding that the panel met in early January and set up a tentative outline for their interim report.

Manuel Cunha said he was pleased with Sally Shaver’s comments that EPA is not dictating what the states do or what the RPOs should make the states do with respect to burning and haze.

Mark Boese commented on the SIP credits for voluntary incentive programs, and he re-emphasized to the Task Force the need to continue to push USDA and EPA to do the research that quantifies emissions so that states can take credit for any reductions they get.

On behalf of EPA’s Office of Air, John Pemberton publicly thanked Sally Shaver, Robin Dunkins, and Elvis Graves for all the work they have done in agriculture.

After a break, Gary Margheim updated the Task Force on the Farm Bill’s progress in Congress. He mentioned the various air quality elements included in the Senate and House versions of the bill, and he shared his assessment that to date, air quality had done well, certainly in the conservation and energy titles. He added, “We now have much clearer direction about the importance of air quality and its elevation in terms of the conservation programs. The somewhat disappointing part so far has been in the research title, where there is very little mention of any air quality.”

Chairman Reed invited Ray Knighton from Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service (CSREES) and Dick Amerman from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to share their perspectives on the Farm Bill. Dr. Knighton said that in the 2002 budget, CSREES lost the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS) program, which they had hoped would be a potential way to create a stand-alone program for air quality research within CSREES. However, the IFAFS program has strong support within the Farm Bill.

Dr. Amerman recalled that Dr. Margheim had raised the issue of carbon dioxide, and he said that if the Task Force is interested in carbon dioxide as an air quality issue, he would certainly try to pull together a fairly sizeable CO2 program that ARS has under the heading of “Global Change.”

Manuel Cunha suggested that the Task Force prepare a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture stressing the importance of having some money specifically allocated to air quality research and recommending that air quality research be included in the Farm Bill or as part of a USDA budget. With respect to the letter, Chairman Reed asked Mr. Cunha to work with Gary Margheim and Beth Sauerhaft to prepare a draft for the Task Force to discuss the following morning.

Stephanie Whalen asked Dr. Knighton if the two air quality projects in IFAFS that he had mentioned at the previous meeting had been funded for 2002, and he answered yes. Dr. Whalen then requested a presentation on those projects at the next Task Force meeting.

Dr. Margheim told the group that the Administration had worked hard to produce a set of principles to guide farm conservation policy, and he had copies of that document to share with the Task Force. He complimented the Secretary of Agriculture for her efforts to increase the emphasis on research.

The public comment period was next on the agenda, and John Brenner introduced the two speakers. The first was Jeannette Fish, Executive Director of the Maricopa County Farm Bureau. Ms. Fish made three specific requests of the USDA: 1) more research by universities and research agencies to provide some additional validity to the estimates that are used in developing regulations; 2) more truly voluntary incentive programs; and 3) more funding for natural resource conservation districts and the NRCS, which provides the personnel “on the ground” for conservation and environmental programs.

The second speaker was Mark Janssen with the Midwest Regional Planning Organization. Mr. Janssen reported that his RPO is planning to invest as much as a quarter of their money for 2002 on Ag. research. He asked for help with planning their research efforts, which they intend to focus on agricultural emissions, particularly ammonia emissions from CAFOs and emissions from agricultural equipment. The RPO would be meeting March 12 and 13, and Mr. Janssen invited anyone interested, particularly researchers, to attend.

After lunch, Chairman Reed turned the meeting over to Jim Trotter for the Research Priorities and Oversights Subcommittee report. Mr. Trotter told about a number of conversations he had with Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Jim Moseley about an allocation of monies for agricultural air quality research.  Mr. Moseley requested the Task Force’s list of research priorities. Bob Avant and Robert Flocchini gave him the Task Force’s one-page summary of research priorities, but it was not exactly the list that was originally approved by the Task Force. Kelley Green then worked on changes to the document to bring it into agreement with the Task Force’s previous priority summary.

Mr. Green then reviewed the priorities with the Task Force. The most important research category on the list is research related to PM10 and PM2.5. The top three subcategories are:

Priority 1:   Development of accurate PM10 and PM2.5 emission factors from agricultural activities

Priority 2:   Improved PM10 and PM2.5 sampling and methodology

Priority 3:   Determination of the contribution of agricultural activities, which includes burning, processing, non-road engines, field activities, wind erosion, and CAFOs, to the ambient levels of PM10 and PM2.5.

Mr. Trotter then gave a little background on the document and explained why items were listed in their particular order.

Chairman Reed asked how much research $5 million would buy, and Dr. Parnell replied that $5 million is not much, but realistically it is what the committee can expect. He suggested that in the recommendation to CSREES, the Task Force should take “a very hard-nosed position” on what are the most important issues that will impact agriculture in the future.

Phil Wakelyn added that how much research can be done with $5 million depends in part on where the research is done. He estimated that the money would buy more research if it is completed on contract with people like Dr. Flocchini and Dr. Parnell, who already have established programs that can help answer some of the very basic questions, than if it is done internally at ARS.

Chairman Reed asked if someone could tell the Task Force what happened to a $1 million appropriation back in the mid-1990s that went half to Washington State University and half to University of California, Davis. Dick Amerman responded that while the $1 million was originally intended for California, half of it was redirected to Washington State University to be used in conjunction with some ARS and EPA money that was already out there. WSU has produced quite a bit of research with that money, and the partnership at Washington State is still in progress and moving forward.

Ray Knighton added that the funds at Washington State are actually being spent on six projects going on in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. He said they are leveraging their money with other state dollars and scientists. The researchers are focusing much of their efforts on direct seeding technologies to control wind erosion, and, in conjunction with ARS labs, they are looking at wind tunnel technologies and how particles are transported.

Dr. Knighton commented that if the $5 million were to come through a competitive research program run by CSREES, the average research grant would probably be in the area of about $400,000 to $500,000 over probably two to three years, so $5 million would yield roughly ten projects.

Chairman Reed stated that the reason he raised the issue of the WSU/UC Davis grant was because the Task Force needs to be extremely clear on its views concerning how the research should be conducted. The Deputy Secretary and some others will make the final decisions, but the Task Force should advance a well-defined position on the research when dealing with Secretary Moseley and others.

Since the research priority documents had just been distributed, Kelley Green interjected a few quick explanations of the changes that had been made to the one-page research priority summary.

Bob Flocchini briefly explained how UC Davis used their half of the $1 million appropriation for research in agricultural air quality. He said their approach was a bit different from Washington State’s, for they used internal monies to extend the value of the grant. They worked with industry groups to address which crops and which practices had the biggest impact in terms of agricultural emissions. In their interim report, they determined some emission factors for certain activities, some of which are being used in the implementation plan for the San Joaquin valley.

Addressing Dr. Knighton’s comment that $5 million would probably fund 10 projects of $100,000 a year, Dr. Flocchini asserted that such a low project budget “is not worth writing a proposal for.” These emissions are very difficult to measure, and the research requires the right expertise and significant field work; doing the job right costs more than $100,000 a year. He agreed, however, that it is imperative that the Task Force clearly define exactly what kind of research they need and want if they are to receive useful results.

Bob Avant reiterated that the $5 million is just a short-term project to get some work started during 2002-2003. He stressed that this small request does not in any way mean that the Task Force is abandoning its more comprehensive $65 million program request. However, he did advise the Research Priorities Subcommittee to revisit the priorities of the $65 million request in light of the realities of the current federal budget situation.

Kelley Green emphasized that the subcommittee had separated the dollar issue away from the prioritization issue and focused on the prioritizing. They were bringing those priorities to the full committee for review so that when the funding is granted in whatever amount of money, the top priorities for the research will be as clear as possible.

Mark Boese agreed with Dr. Flocchini that the work required for Priority 1, “develop accurate PM10 emission factors for agriculture,” is very expensive and very time-consuming and can use up the whole $5 million. Because Priority 1 is a very general statement about PM research, he suggested that the Task Force be more specific about the exact topics within that priority on which they would want the $5 million spent.

Manuel Cunha explained that he, Bob Avant, and Bob Flocchini drafted the immediate letter because Mr. Avant was meeting with the Deputy Secretary, but they later faxed to them the $65 million research request that the Task Force approved in 2001. Mr. Cunha said he also believes that legislators and chairmen of committees do not want twenty-page documents; they want the key points summarized in very short documents. Mr. Cunha felt the one-page document prepared by Kelley Green and the staff was an excellent, brief description of the Task Force’s priorities, and continuing to modify it at every meeting would serve no productive purpose.

Mr. Cunha also opposed the method Dr. Knighton described of funding PM10 research with ten small contracts. Mr. Cunha thought that giving larger amounts to fewer institutions would be more efficient. He then exhorted the Task Force to press to have a set portion of the $2 billion in ARS and CSREES allocated specifically to agricultural air quality research, and that this funding be coordinated with the Task Force.

Tom Coleman commented that the most pressing data needs seem to be related to emission factors, so he suggested that the $5 million be spent on developing those emission factors in major areas throughout the country. This would give EPA some real data on which to base their regulations, and the Task Force could still push the larger research agenda.

Manuel Cunha moved to accept Kelley Green’s report, but first Chairman Reed allowed the four individuals who had asked to speak to share their comments before he entertained the motion.

Calvin Parnell shared a few examples to illustrate the importance of using emission factors that are based on good science instead of many of the EPA numbers. He stressed that when money is spend to get new emission factors, the research must be done correctly.

Gary Margheim pointed out that the next item on the agenda was the Emission Factor Subcommittee report, where they would be sharing the results of their survey. He suggested that the Task Force members might want to postpone voting on the priorities document until after hearing that report.

John Sweeten said he supported the changes recommended by Kelley Green and the Research Priorities Subcommittee. He also commented that building a funding framework a few million dollars at a time may be easier than going after one large $65 million package.

Emmett Barker asked who would be following through on the Task Force’s recommendations after the initial letter is sent to Jim Moseley. Chairman Reed answered that Gary Margheim, Bob Avant, and Jim Trotter are all working to ensure that something does happen with these recommendations.

Manuel Cunha repeated his motion to accept Kelley Green and Jim Trotter’s work on the summary of the three research priorities, and the motion was seconded. Chairman Reed called for the question; the motion passed.

After a short break, Annette Sharp reported on the work of the Emission Factor Subcommittee. She began by outlining some of the parameters of the Emission Factor Survey, including some demographic information about the respondents, and then she discussed the results to date.

Ms. Sharp said that the majority of the respondents were most concerned about PM10, PM2.5, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). She also indicated that the survey information continues to support what the researchers on the Task Force have been saying for a number of years about emission factor priorities.

Ms. Sharp announced that the deadline to respond to the survey had been extended to February 28, 2002. They hoped to get more farmers to participate, as well as more agricultural industry groups. The subcommittee planned to summarize the results in a more detailed fashion at the next Task Force meeting, and they hoped to get some of the information up on their website just for public information.

Ms. Sharp then asked Wayne Robarge to discuss Phase II of the survey. He explained that the subcommittee initiated the survey as the first step toward building an emission factor database that would provide emissions information to people who need it, and that would invite those people to share the emission factors they currently use. The subcommittee would soon be getting together to discuss Phase II, which will be the phase for online data entry of emissions factors. Dr. Robarge expected to have the database and its query engine up and running before the next Task Force meeting.

John Sweeten expressed his concern that there had not been enough of a concerted or systematic effort to solicit responses from the research community, the commodity groups, or NRCS. He asked how the subcommittee planned to market the survey to encourage more responses. Annette Sharp replied that EPA has been committed to the survey and has been spreading the word, and Ms. Sharp herself had spoken of the survey at a number of national meetings with scientists that are in this field. She emphasized that they were relying on Task Force members to help spread the word.

Kelley Green suggested that someone from the subcommittee send all the Task Force members a one-paragraph e-mail explaining the survey and giving its website link. In turn the members could forward that e-mail to all the relevant groups they know, thus disseminating the information very quickly. Ms. Sharp agreed to send out such an e-mail message.

With respect to the inputting of data, Roger Isom asked if the subcommittee would be determining some qualifications and requirements of data to be included in the system. Dr. Robarge replied that anyone wishing to input data would be required to register. The database would cover all types of documents, including peer-reviewed journal articles, federal and state reports, and websites, but the subcommittee did not feel it could engage in actively screening every source. Mr. Isom responded that he was rather concerned with that approach because it would allow data that had not been peer reviewed to be added to the database, and that data could subsequently be used in questionable applications. Dr. Robarge said that this concern was why the survey was not currently available, but the subcommittee will be working to resolve the issue.

Calvin Parnell asked if the database and website would be coordinated with the emission factors EPA has on their website. He also commented that Phase II is excellent; since emission factors can be a wide range of numbers, not just one number, Phase II will be very beneficial. Quality control for the emission factors submitted will be difficult, but Dr. Parnell said the NAS committee will be delivering a protocol for developing quality emission factors, so that information can help Phase II.

Bob Avant asked Annette Sharp if she had a one-page or one-paragraph summary explaining the survey. Ms. Sharp said the website gives a great introduction to the survey and its purpose, but she could also prepare something shorter.

Mr. Avant also volunteered to update and distribute to the Task Force members a Microsoft Access file with all of the members’ names, addresses, and e-mail addresses.

Chairman Reed asked for a motion to accept the Emission Factors Subcommittee’s report, and then he called for the question. The report was accepted.

After a short break, John Sweeten presented the report from the CAFO Subcommittee. He told about the recent participation of subcommittee members in various conferences across the country, and he encouraged further participation, especially with respect to presentations on CAFO-related emissions. He said the subcommittee is responding to drafts of EPA’s CAFO rules and regulations coming out of the Office of Water, and they will continue to review state standards for air quality constituents outside of the NAAQS Regulated Compounds, and to monitor developments on hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen sulfide ammonia, odor, and VOCs.

Dr. Sweeten mentioned a number of white papers dealing with air quality that had been developed by the National Center for Manured Animal Waste Management, a 14-state consortium, and he distributed the summaries of 19 or 20 of those white papers.

The CAFO Subcommittee is considering developing an expert group on modeling dispersion from distributed ground level area sources. They would also like to review data outputs from the Emission Factor Subcommittee and jointly recommend research priorities to the Research Subcommittee and other groups to fill obvious gaps. In addition, Dr. Sweeten said the CAFO Subcommittee is participating again in briefings of USDA and EPA officials, and the members of the subcommittee are working with various groups on technology evaluation and recommendation.

Emmett Barker asked if OMB had recently put the CAFO rule on hold pending review by OMB or further review by EPA. Gary Margheim requested that Tom Christensen of NRCS be allowed to respond to the question; Mr. Christensen said his group communicated almost daily with EPA in regards to the CAFO rule, and they have had no indication or information that would change the timeline that had been laid out.

Mr. Barker then commented that the Task Force had just spent a considerable amount of time talking about the lack of efficacy of emission factors, and yet Dr. Sweeten reported that his subcommittee was speaking at conferences about ways to solve all of these problems. Mr. Barker asked what the subcommittee was telling people about the solutions. Dr. Sweeten replied that there are many Best Management Practices available to mitigate odor, reduce emissions of ammonia, and so forth; these things are known. But he added, “There is a lot of ‘known’ and there is relatively less ‘proven,’ and when we get to emission factors, we need to deal with what is proven.” Dr. Sweeten said that it is the quality of data that makes the difference between being able to recommend an approved practice to a producer and being able to prove that the approved practice will work because it has quality data to support it. He remarked that this is why the NAS study is so important; they are determining what is known, what needs to be known, what part of science really needs to be funded, and what part is probably not going to provide truly necessary information.

As one last comment, Mr. Barker recalled that Theresa Pella had said something about the CAFO rule and looking at cost. However, he believed that the Circuit Court in Washington had ruled that EPA does not have to take cost into consideration in a final rule, and he asked Sally Shaver for clarification. Ms. Shaver replied that they do not have to consider costs when setting the ambient air quality standards; it is when any given standard is implemented that cost is examined.

Viney Aneja commented that he was impressed by the white paper documents produced by the Manure Management Center, but he suggested that they be peer-reviewed equally by people across the community, not just by one segment of the community. Dr. Sweeten said the subcommittee would look into such action.

Chairman Reed dismissed the Task Force to reconvene the following morning.

USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force

Meeting Minutes

January 17, 2002

Embassy Suites Hotel Phoenix-Scottsdale

4415 East Paradise Village Parkway South

Phoenix, Arizona 85032

Members present:

Viney Aneja                                         Wayne Robarge

Bob Avant                                            Kevin Rogers

Emmett Barker                                     Annette Sharp

Mark Boese                                         Sally Shaver

Tom Coleman                                       John Sweeten

Manuel Cunha                                      Jim Trotter

Bob Flocchini                                       Michael Unsworth

Kelley Green                                        Phil Wakelyn

Roger Isom                                          Stephanie Whalen

Calvin Parnell                                      

Pearlie Reed, Chair


Other NRCS Support Staff:

Beth Sauerhaft (Designated Federal Official)

John Beyer                                           Gary Margheim

John Brenner                                        Jeff Schmidt

Elvis Graves                                         Roel Vining

Ray Sinclair


Other EPA Support Staff:

Robin Dunkins, Phil Lorang, Randy Waite


Other Federal Personnel:

Dick Amerman, ARS, NHQ                 Jean-Mari Peltier, EPA, NHQ

Mack Gray, USDA                              John Pemberton, EPA, NHQ

Ray Knighton, CSREES, NHQ           


Public Citizens:

Sheldon Jones, Arizona Department of Agriculture

Jay Clapp, retired engineer

Jim Klinker, Arizona Farm Bureau

Chairman Reed reconvened the Agricultural Air Quality Task Force (AAQTF) meeting and introduced Dr. Mack Gray, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. Dr. Gray shared a few thoughts on the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study and the role of the Task Force.

Kevin Rogers then introduced the Director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture, Sheldon Jones. Mr. Jones made a few comments as well, stressing in particular how “one-size-fits-all” regulations do not work in an industry like agriculture that varies so much from state to state. He also emphasized the need for voluntary programs that offer farmers various compliance options if the country is to make any progress on conservation and environmental issues.

With respect to the science, Mr. Jones said that private sector research bears out that the technology exists and is safe, but public research is not yet there to support that. He called for the leaders in the agriculture community and the conservation sector to continue to advocate congressional support for research related to technology and environmental stewardship.

Chairman Reed thanked Commissioner Jones and opened up the discussion for questions. Wayne Robarge asked Director Jones to estimate agriculture’s contribution to the gross state product and the national product, and the importance of agriculture in the local rural areas, in terms of tax base and providing employment. Mr. Jones responded that about five years ago empirical studies indicated that the agriculture sector was equal to tourism at nearly $7 billion; with some value-added issues, new products, and some additional diversity in the Ag sector, he believes agriculture’s impact is now about $10 billion on the total state’s economy.

Emmett Barker asked the Commissioner to comment further on society’s perception of agriculture and its future in an increasingly urban and environmentally-regulated world. Commissioner Jones gave vivid examples of how the American public has lost its connection with and understanding of where the nation’s food and clothing are produced. The agricultural community must continue to educate the people on the value of our natural resources, including production agriculture and the role it plays. He added that the events of September 11 were a “wake-up call,” saying the U.S. needs some type of national food security policy to sustain itself for some period of time.

Chairman Reed thanked Commissioner Jones and then moved to the first item on the agenda: the approval of the minutes from the July 2001 meeting in Denver. A motion was made and seconded to approve the minutes as revised. Viney Aneja requested that Bob Avant take care of correcting any minor spelling errors, and both Chairman Reed and Mr. Avant agreed. The Chairman called for the question; the motion passed.

Manuel Cunha requested, and Chairman Reed concurred, that the staff finalize a draft of the letter to the Secretary stressing the importance of having money specifically allocated to air quality research.

Next, Mr. Cunha briefly updated the Task Force on recent Title V developments. He informed the group that there is now a three-year timeline to work on the Title V issue pertaining to internal combustion engines in California. Also, at the Task Force’s last meeting, the Title V Subcommittee had agreed to move forward with meetings between EPA and USDA concerning agriculture and the Clean Air Act, but those meetings had been postponed after September 11. Mr. Cunha recommended that Chairman Reed and his staff work with Sally Shaver to reschedule those meetings for mid-February or mid-March in Washington, D.C., to start talking about the Clean Air Act issue for agriculture and the three-year Title V issue as well. Both Chairman Reed and Ms. Shaver agreed with the recommendation, and Calvin Parnell volunteered to attend as well to represent the Voluntary Compliance Subcommittee.

John Sweeten passed out an edited version of the report from the CAFO Subcommittee. He went over the changes that had been made and then moved to adopt the revised report. Someone seconded the motion. Hearing no discussion, Chairman Reed called for the question; the motion passed.

Mike Unsworth commented that a very substantial number of states and local agencies appear to be applying different standards than the federal standards on criteria pollutants, and some of them have also adopted standards on other materials associated with CAFOs, such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). He suggested that a compilation of all the different standards would be worthwhile, if such an inventory would not be duplicating work that has already been done. Annette Sharp replied that the STAPPA/ALAPCO group has surveyed 23 states on agricultural issues. She did not know whether the results were as detailed as what Dr. Unsworth was proposing, but she agreed to forward a copy of that report to all of the Task Force members so that they could determine other areas for which they would like additional information.

To clarify, Calvin Parnell explained that if EPA sets a National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS), the states are not necessarily required to use those standards because they can implement something more rigid and more stringent, and they can apply it in the manner in which they, as a state, feel it should be applied. California’s ozone standard is a case in point.

Emmett Barker said his understanding was that a state may have air quality standards that exceed the federal standards, but they still need EPA to sign off and agree that the standards are acceptable. He asked if this was true. Ms. Sharp responded that there are very few places in the Clean Air Act where states are prohibited from doing their own rulemaking, and in the remainder of the Act, the states are certainly in a position to create more stringent controls.

Sally Shaver replied that under Title I of the Act, which deals with stationary sources, the states can be more stringent without EPA’s approval. However, Ms. Shaver was not familiar with the specific requirements of Title II, which deals with mobile sources and diesel fuels.

Manuel Cunha related that California already has permitting programs for criteria pollutants and toxics, but they have to implement the federal standard of the Title V permitting program—even though, in California’s observation, Title V has no air quality benefit at all for their state. Mr. Cunha proposed that at the next meeting, the Task Force examine the feasibility of having EPA waive the federal Title V requirements for states with more stringent requirements already in place. Chairman Reed said he and his staff would consider Mr. Cunha’s suggestion as they prepare the agenda for the next meeting.

After a break, Chairman Reed had Gary Margheim lead the discussion on the continuation of the Task Force. The charter establishing the current Task Force will expire on August 7, 2002. At that point, this Task Force will no longer exist, and a new Task Force will have to be appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. Dr. Margheim called for honest, candid discussion of whether or not it is worthwhile to continue the Task Force; if the group agreed that the committee should continue, he requested that the staff be granted permission to proceed immediately with the lengthy processes of advertising in the Federal Register for nominations and of getting a new charter in place.

Almost all of the Task Force members contributed to the discussion, and every comment shared supported the continuation of the Task Force. The members believed the group had been, and would continue to be, instrumental in promoting research into the resolution of national agricultural air quality issues, and in facilitating cooperative work between EPA, USDA, and the farming community. As Annette Sharp stated, “We can’t share our ideas if we’re not at the same table.”

With so much support expressed, Chairman Reed said he would entertain a motion to continue the Task Force. After Mack Gray shared a few final comments endorsing the Task Force, a motion was made and seconded to continue the Task Force.

Annette Sharp asked if the committee would also entertain a motion to extend the existing two-year limit on the Task Force charter to four years. Dr. Margheim said such action would require more than what the committee could do at that meeting, but he would look into the matter and report back.

Chairman Reed called for the question, and the motion passed.

Next, Phil Wakelyn reported on the Monitoring Subcommittee’s work on two issue papers on the monitoring of particulate matter and dispersion modeling. Dr. Wakelyn presented the drafts of the papers, and he moved that the Task Force approve the drafts, subject to further editing by the subcommittee. The motion was seconded.

Viney Aneja commented that if these issue paper documents would be reflecting the work of the committee, he would suggest that they be subjected to some scientific peer review.

Wayne Robarge supported the motion on the floor, and he observed that the Task Force can use such documents to teach the public about air quality issues without scaring them off with mathematical equations. Calvin Parnell agreed that the issue papers would be used primarily as an educational tool, and they could also serve as an introduction to a working group to interface with EPA to address the issues.

Stephanie Whalen suggested that papers such as these be posted on the Task Force website to allow for more discussion and review time in between committee meetings. Chairman Reed indicated that this suggestion, which was originally made at the last meeting, was being pursued and would be discussed later.

Mike Unsworth wished to add to the dispersion modeling paper that there is a whole area of dispersion modeling that is not traditionally being used in agricultural air quality regulation, but which may be much more appropriate for these low-level and spatially-dispersed sources.

Annette Sharp reminded the Task Force that the states are in the process now of making modeling protocols and selecting models for regional haze; they cannot afford to wait for the next Task Force meeting to get this information.

Sally Shaver proposed that the Task Force engage in developing ways to solve these modeling and sampling issues, and as an advisory committee to USDA and EPA, recommend a more appropriate use of modeling, fence-line modeling, and data from the samplers. She said such recommendations would be very helpful to EPA in the public debate on how they implement the standards.

Chairman Reed called for the question. The motion to approve the two issue papers passed, with Dr. Aneja abstaining.

Phil Wakelyn then moved that the Task Force create a working committee to collaborate with EPA and Ms. Shaver on the implementation issue. He suggested that Bob Flocchini, Calvin Parnell, and himself serve on that committee, and he asked for recommendations for people outside the Task Force that could serve as well. Dr. Aneja seconded the motion. The Chairman requested that the committee forego further discussion and to go a vote; the motion passed.

Dr. Wakelyn asked that the issue papers be given to the National Academy of Science’s panel to incorporate into their preliminary report. Chairman Reed so ordered the action.

The Voluntary Incentive-Based Program Subcommittee was next on the agenda, and Calvin Parnell focused his report on the issue of emission reduction credits (ERCs) for agriculture. The subcommittee’s proposal recommends to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief of NRCS that the Task Force promote the use of emission credits for agriculture for abatement strategies that reduce the emissions of pollutants from agricultural operations, and that farmers be allowed to bank these credits just as power plants do.

Wayne Robarge thanked the subcommittee for bringing ERCs to the Task Force’s attention. He thought that banking and marketing emission credits were creative approaches to dealing with the cost to the individual of converting to alternative technologies. Manuel Cunha encouraged the Task Force to move forward on this issue and work with Sally Shaver and her group at EPA.

Roger Isom shared some successes the cotton gin industry has had with ERCs, and he strongly supported the credits as a “win-win” strategy. He advocated accepting the proposal and also establishing a work group or a subcommittee to develop the implementation of such a program.

Mark Boese concurred with Mr. Isom’s suggestion of a subcommittee to work on this. He commented that without ERCs, especially in non-attainment areas, there will not be any growth or expansion of existing industries. As the credits are used up, they become more rare and more expensive. They need to consider innovative ways of creating these credits, and agriculture is an area that has not yet been tapped. Mr. Boese admitted that an ERC program would meet with incredible hurdles, but he believed that the Task Force could work with EPA to achieve such a program for agriculture. He also pointed out that if producers take credit for emission reductions from Ag in their SIPs, then they cannot also use those credits for emission reduction credits.

Annette Sharp informed the committee that part of the regional haze rule requires that the regional planning organizations (RPOs) or states look into a market trading situation when they start discussing regional haze, which includes particulates. She urged the Task Force to get involved in some of the RPOs.

Chairman Reed asked for a motion to accept the subcommittee’s report, with the appropriate instructions to follow up on some of the issues raised during the discussion and to create a sub-subcommittee to work on implementing an ERC program for agriculture. It was so moved and seconded. The Chairman suggested the Task Force forego the discussion and vote on the motion; the motion carried.

With regard to the working group for monitoring issues that was approved earlier, Phil Wakelyn proposed that Sally Shaver be appointed chair of the Monitoring Work Group. Chairman Reed so ordered the appointment.

Bob Avant, co-chair of the Follow-Up Subcommittee, directed the Task Force’s attention to the list of follow-up items from the July 2001 meeting. Some of the items had already been addressed the previous two days, but Mr. Avant said the subcommittee would continue to monitor and move forward on the other items.

John Sweeten suggested that the subcommittee also follow up on the results of the resolution passed in July 2001 concerning striking a balance between EPA’s standard setting process and their enforcement activities. Mr. Avant agreed to add that issue to the list.

Before Mack Gray left, Chairman Reed asked him to respond to a question that had been raised the previous day. Emmett Barker had asked if USDA was taking any action to represent the interest of agricultural producers when they were faced with lawsuits related to Best Management Practices. Dr. Gray replied that in this context, USDA’s role is to provide to the court the best objective science that is possible, and to admit when they do not have it. Beyond that, USDA is not and should not be a “hired gun.” Mr. Barker then asked if USDA had filed an amicus cure on one of these lawsuits pertaining to agriculture practices, and Dr. Gray said that to his knowledge, they had not. He reiterated that USDA’s role is to provide honest, objective input and scientific input into that process, rather than becoming a part of the litigation.

Mr. Barker asked both Dr. Gray and Chairman Reed if USDA had ever officially commented on any EPA rules. Dr. Gray said he could not answer. He added that there is an old tradition in the federal government that one agency does not normally make official comments on another agency’s rules and regulations. However, as far as he knew, there is nothing illegal about doing so. He also commented that while working on the CAFO rules over the past ten months, USDA and EPA have developed an “excellent working relationship” to ensure that the best science available is being considered in the rulemaking.

Chairman Reed called on Stephanie Whalen to report on the Agriculture Burning Subcommittee. The previous day Dr. Whalen passed out drafts of Tasks One, Two, and Three from the Fire Emission Joint Forum (FEJF) for comment. She proposed that the subcommittee be allowed to compile and submit to FEJF the Task Force’s comments on the tasks. The subcommittee would accept the Task Force members’ comments for one more week before drafting the feedback document.

Manuel Cunha supported the subcommittee’s proposal, but he suggested that when the final document is ready, it should be submitted to Chairman Reed, who would forward it to the correct parties. Mr. Cunha then moved to accept the Burning Subcommittee’s report. The motion was seconded. Foregoing the discussion, the Chairman called for the question; the motion passed.

Manuel Cunha gave a very brief report from the Title V Subcommittee, indicating simply that the subcommittee would be working with Chairman Reed, Sally Shaver and her staff, and Jeff Holmestead to move forward with discussions on Title V issues and on the application of the Clean Air Act to agriculture.

Next on the agenda, Ray Knighton and Dick Amerman provided updates on current activities in CSREES and ARS. Dr. Knighton said that during the budget process, National Research Initiative (NRI) funding was restored to previous years’ levels of about $120 million, but unfortunately the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS) program, which had been $120 million per year, was lost. He happily reported, however, that in 2001, $4.25 million were awarded through the IFAFS program to air quality-related topics, and CSREES is in the process of awarding two new special grants related to air quality (one to Texas and one to California) for a total of a little over $1 million.

Dr. Knighton also told the Task Force about the Bush Administration’s National Climate Change Technologies Initiative. He said policy papers are being written on the U.S. response to global climate change and particularly greenhouse gases. These papers state that 75% of the greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide are coming from agriculture. Dr. Knighton believed that the Task Force could play an important role in the proceedings on the Initiative, especially to educate some of the other groups that are not aware of the Ag industry, and to examine some of the other greenhouse gases in addition to CO2. This Initiative also creates an opportunity to do research in emissions and reductions in gases. There are six general program areas within IFAFS, including Natural Resource Management; air quality is covered under the subtopic Animal Waste Management.

Bob Avant remarked that at the previous meeting, the Task Force approved a resolution to establish agricultural air quality research as a stand-alone area, and he asked Dr. Knighton if any steps had been taken to establish that. Mr. Avant also inquired about what could be done to ensure that those reviewing the proposals did not show a bias against air quality research. Dr. Knighton replied that he made a dedicated attempt to have a stand-alone air quality program carved out within the next offering of IFAFS, and there was support within the agency to do that, but now it is not going to happen. However, he is hopeful that, should the next Farm Bill authorize increased funding within the IFAFS program, they should be able to have a stand-alone air quality program. With respect to reviewer bias, Dr. Knighton said they try to find reviewers who have a broader expertise and who can review several subject matter areas. The agency tries to make the process as fair and as objective as possible.

Emmett Barker inquired whether the Task Force could be briefed on the information going into the policy papers for the National Climate Change Technologies Initiative. Dr. Knighton responded that most of the information in the papers came from public documents related to long-standing global change programs within the U.S. Global Change Program. Chairman Reed promised to follow up on the Initiative and report back at the next committee meeting on what the Task Force could do.

Manuel Cunha proposed that the Task Force make a formal request for both ARS and CSREES to provide the committee with a five- to ten-year plan for funding air quality research. Chairman Reed volunteered to follow up with ARS and CSREES on behalf of the Task Force and make the formal requests. He also recommended inviting Colleen Hephrin, CSREES Administrator, and Floyd Horn, ARS Administrator, to a future Task Force meeting.

Next, Dick Amerman went over the various air quality-related research projects that ARS is currently funding.

Chairman Reed asked Beth Sauerhaft to lead the discussion of the date and location for the next Task Force meeting. At the suggestion of various members, Dr. Sauerhaft proposed scheduling the next two meetings at this time, and she proposed gathering in the Midwest, possibly in Iowa, in late April or early May, and then in Washington, D.C., in July. Stephanie Whalen extended yet another invitation for the committee to meet in her state of Hawaii. Both Bob Avant and Manuel Cunha declared that it would be more strategic for the Task Force to meet in Washington in April or May to support the 2003 Farm Bill. After further discussion, Chairman Reed directed Dr. Sauerhaft to proceed with planning the next meeting in Washington in April, and the following one in Hawaii in the summer.

Before moving to the public comment period, Chairman Reed thanked the host in Arizona, and then Kevin Rogers recognized the Arizona Farm Bureau, the Arizona Cotton Growers, the American Farm Bureau, Kelley Green and the Texas Ginners Association, the Extension Service, and Mike Somerville and his NRCS staff for sponsoring the meeting.

John Brenner introduced two speakers for the public comment period. The first person was Jay Clapp, a retired aerospace engineer and farm owner from Oklahoma, who commented on CAFOs from his experience opposing two new 25,000-sow facilities in his area. He believed that EPA was not doing enough to protect the environment. He also felt strongly that as large corporations replace family farms, they should never be allowed to increase overall pollution, which he says is definitely happening with CAFOs. Mr. Clapp alleged that voluntary programs would be “useless” in the case of swine CAFOs.

The next speaker was Jim Klinker, the administrator of the Arizona Farm Bureau. Responding to Mr. Clapp, Mr. Klinker stated that the small family farm is indeed disappearing, sad as that is. They cannot survive because of the cost of regulations, inflation, and equipment. Big corporate farms, Mr. Klinker observed, should not be considered the villains because “big farming is what’s going to provide the food for the world.”

Mr. Klinker strongly supported the continuation of the Task Force because their work on funding further research and promoting policies based on good science is invaluable to the agriculture industry. He encouraged the committee to focus on the economics of agriculture as well.

John Sweeten responded to both of the public speakers by saying, “Let us keep in mind always that regulations and standards are the floor of social responsibility, not the ceiling of opportunity. . . . Regulations should not focus only on what it takes to keep the small operation in business but also on what is the possibility for the largest operation.”

Wayne Robarge assured Mr. Clapp that the Task Force had listened carefully to his comments on both days of the meeting. Dr. Robarge stressed, however, that the committee is not just serving agriculture but the public as well. He also stated that when EPA regulates based on guesses and not on real science, they are not serving the public and are, in fact, damaging the public’s perception that state and Federal regulatory agencies can do something and control this process.

Chairman Reed turned the floor over to the designated federal official, Beth Sauerhaft, who formally adjoined the meeting.