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AAQTF May 2003 Meeting Minutes

Meeting minutes from the May 20-21, 2003 AAQTF meeting in Washington, DC.

USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force

Meeting Minutes

May 20, 2003

Hall of States Building

Rm. 333, 444 N. Capitol St.

Washington, DC

Members present:

Bruce Knight, Chair
Bob Avant
Mark Boese
Garth Boyd
Nan Bunker
Tom Coleman
Bob Flocchini
Robert Jackman
Ray Knighton
Timothy Maupin
Calvin Parnell
Kevin Rogers
Dave Roper
Joseph Rudek
Rita Sharma
Annette Sharp
Sally Shaver
Douglas Shelmidine
John Sweeten
Phil Wakelyn
Stephanie Whalen
Bob Wright
Al Riebau

Beth Sauerhaft (Designated Federal Official)

Other USDA Personnel:

John Beyer, USDA-NRCS
Rodney Brown, USDA-REE
Larry Clark, USDA-NRCS
Meredith Dahl, USDA-OGC
L. Duriancik, USDA-CSREES
Elvis Graves, USDA-NRCS
Mack Gray, USDA-NRE
Sheryl Kunickis USDA-NRCS
Gary Margheim, USDA-NRCS
Donna V. Lamb, USDA-FS
Jeff Schmidt, USDA-NRCS
Steven Shafer, USDA-ARS
Brian Shaw, USDA-NRCS
Ray Sinclair, USDA-NRCS-NSSC

Other EPA Personnel

Kerry Drake
Robin Dunkins
Bob Fegley
Chris Geron
D. Bruce Harris
Dan Kopinski
Michele Laur
Douglas McKinney
Linda Metcalf
Jean-Mari Peltier
John Pemberton

Public Attendees:

Audry Adamson, National Pork Producers
Cynthia Cory, CFBF
Rebeckah Freeman, American Farm Bureau
Trisha Marsh Johnson, Jones-Hamilton Co.
R. C. Johnson, General Chemical
Rodney Kamper, Western United Dairymen
Allen Schaffer, Diesel Technology Forum
Diane Shea, National Governors Association
Gerald Talbert, National Association of Conservation Districts
John Thorne, Capitolink
Simon Vander Woudie, Western United Dairymen
Ross Wilson, TCFA
Nick Yaksizh, AEM
Maggie Kerchner, NOAA

Minutes Overview
Prevailing themes of the Agricultural Air Quality Task Force’s (AAQTF) discussions focused on the need for Task Force oversight of certain issues and on the areas of policy, research, and emerging technology. Various presentations updated the members about the current state of USDA and EPA research and policy and provoked discussion highlighting the chief concerns of the Task Force.  The AAQTF was urged to recognize the need to take oversight roles to measure the effectiveness of implemented recommendations and perhaps to focus on issues in the San Joaquin Valley, as it continues to be one of the top areas of Clean Air Act non-attainment in the US. The Task Force also developed goals for its new session and identified subcommittees to further define those goals.

Minutes – Tuesday May 20, 2003
Beth Sauerhaft made the opening welcome and preliminary comments, and a picture was taken of the 2003 Task Force. She then introduced the Agricultural Air Quality Task Force (AAQTF) Chair, Bruce Knight, Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service. Knight noted that USDA Secretary Veneman re-chartered the Task Force (with 15 returning members, 9 newly appointed members and 3 ex-officio government members from USDA) in August 2002 to foster interagency cooperation between USDA and EPA on issues of air quality. Mack Gray, Deputy Under Secretary of Natural Resources and the Environment represented Secretary Veneman in welcoming new members.

Jean-Mari Peltier, Counselor to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, described her own role as that of a conduit between the Task Force and the Administrator. Her goal was to see that issues in air, water, soil erosion, and pest management were addressed in such a way that the solutions did not exacerbate other environmental issues. 

After introductions, Beth Sauerhaft gave an overview of Atmospheric Research Quality Management activities in the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), which includes greenhouse gases, stratospheric ozone levels, renewable energy and air movement. NRCS is developing national policy to address atmospheric resources, and various tools, such as the national quality criteria, an air quality assessment tool (new web-based decision tree), technical guidelines, practice standard update to address atmospheric resource issues and a new Atmospheric Resource Quality Management Standard, all of which producers can use to help reduce air emissions and state regulators can examine to understand the tools available to producers. 

Tommy Coleman asked about competitive research priorities and partnerships. Sheryl Kunickis, NRCS Research Coordinator, said that she would post NRCS’s top 14 research and technology development needs once she was given the OK to do so.

Phillip Wakelyn felt that having a summary of the National Air Quality Workshop proceedings mentioned by Sauerhaft would be worthwhile for the Task Force.

In response to discussion of the Digester Summit on June 2-4th, Garth Boyd mentioned the positive cooperation in installing digesters and that the EQIP Program was effective for mitigating costs. Chief Knight continued, saying that money, technology, and moving the electricity through the rural electric cooperatives are the main problems facing methane digesters. Stephanie Whalen agreed that the power companies often do not want to give producers a fair share, and the individual producers are at a big disadvantage in negotiating with larger power producers. Many power companies believe that green power is not in their best interest. Bruce Knight noted that the problem is already on the table in the House and Senate, which both have provisions for green energy policies on the table.  The Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture are working together to resolve some of the issues.

Dave Roper asked when the Innovative Grants Program would reach the counties and how to measure its effectiveness. Bruce Knight replied that the priorities were to update BMPs, incorporate the need for greater innovation on the ground through EQIP, and in October begin the Innovative Grants Program.

Joseph Rudek cautioned that linking anaerobic digesters to proper NH4 handling was important in conservation practices. Beth said that planners were looking at the issues holistically, and Rudek replied that monitoring the ammonia loss from anaerobic digestate during soil fertilization or from lagoons receiving the digestate was important because nitrogen concentrations in digestate could be higher than in standard lagoons.  Higher nitrogen concentrations could result in more ammonia volatilization. Bruce Knight agreed that capturing air quality benefits when looking at water and soil quality was important.

Karen Carrington, Office of General Counsel, reviewed Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) rules for the Task Force: membership must be balanced, accountable to the public, and only advise the Secretary of Agriculture as stated in its charter. Calvin Parnell asked whether he could testify before Congress, and Carrington replied that Task Force members may testify before Congress or give their personal professional opinion in any forum, so long as they do not claim to represent the Agricultural Air Quality Task Force. Bruce Knight requested that any questions related to FACA rules be sent to Beth Sauerhaft for fielding and that Task Force members review the charter at their leisure.

Bob Wright, USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), gave a presentation on the state of ARS research on particulate and gaseous emissions from agricultural operations.  The program is designed to develop and evaluate methodologies, practices, and tools to measure, predict and control particulate emissions from agricultural operations such as tillage, harvest, and burning, and particulate and gaseous emissions from animal feeding operations.  This research is done in partnership with universities, state and federal agencies, commodity groups and producers.  Several examples of ARS cooperative research were given including: (I) control of particulate emissions from production facilities and animal feeding operations; (ii) control of animal diet to reduce ammonia emissions from manure; (iii) control of ammonia emissions in poultry broiler and layer houses using solid and liquid alum; (iv) conducting nitrogen balance studies at swine production operations to measure inputs and losses from housing, lagoons, and wastewater field application sites; (v) development of a system of treatment technologies for swine wastewater that improves liquid/solids separation, reduces ammonia emissions, kills pathogens, and captures phosphorus; (vi) development of techniques to measure and predict dispersion of gases from animal feeding operations so that farm boundary emissions measurements can be used to calculate emission rates from the source.

Questions: Bob Avant asked why air quality research constituted less than one percent of the ARS’s one billion dollar research budget, whether there was any movement afoot to increase AQ’s percent of the research pie, and how the AAQTF could influence that movement. Wright replied that ARS is increasing AQ research through a $2m increase in the 2003 budget, redirection of existing research projects, and partnerships with researchers outside ARS.  AQ is a high priority item for budget development within USDA and the President’s 2004 proposed budget for ARS includes a funding increase for AQ research.  Support from groups like AAQTF is critical for any real increase in AQ’s priority profile. Avant wondered if there were any plans for strategic planning to boost AQ’s profile in the budget allocation process, and Wright responded affirmatively. 

Mark Boese asked about testing protocols and peer review regarding research objectives for emissions from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), the development of BMPs, and stationary sources in agriculture.  Bob Wright replied that ARS is involved in emissions instrumentation development and testing.  For example, ARS has been talking with Battelle Labs about participation in an Environmental Technology Valuation program to assess instrumentation for ammonia determination.  In addition, ARS is conducting research to document the effectiveness of management practices for emissions reduction.   

Joseph Rudek asked how the NAS report research priority recommendations for EPA and USDA has affected the recommendations of the Research Priority Committee.  Wright responded that recommendations in the NAS report indicated that ARS was on track relative to research on emissions from animal feeding operations. The USDA and EPA Planning Committee are now discussing CAFOs. Rudek wanted to know whether a wider group will be included on the committee, and Wright said that he hoped so. 

Ray Knighton stated that Departmental senior management are evaluating the USDA Partnership Management Team’s review of the Panel’s recommendations.  They will provide conclusions to the Task Force when they are completed. Calvin Parnell commented on ARS’s unsuccessful bid for a $45–60 million allocation of research dollars that would have been shared with land grant universities and wondered if any new allocation would be shared with those universities for modeling research, especially.  Bob Wright stated that recently animal waste research dollars have been specifically earmarked for sharing with land grant universities and research partnerships. New labs in Kentucky reflect a definite partnership, and individual ARS centers partner with universities.  Modeling is usually done in collaboration with other federal agencies; for instance, dispersion is done with the Department of Defense and NOAA. This work has not progressed to regional scale modeling.  Parnell then asked about estimating concentrations down-wind from the source (short-term modeling), field sampling, and confidentiality.  He also emphasized that regulators will use incorrect numbers if they are still published.  He asked whether expertise existed to quantify the flux. Wright responded that ARS must partner to accomplish those goals. 

Robert Flocchini noted that the Task Force and ARS worked on different time constants: the Task Force was extremely short term and ARS operated on a long-term scale.  He continued that partnerships must be two-way and not defined by one side alone, so stakeholders must be involved early in the decision-making process. 

He also requested copies of all PowerPoint presentations, which Beth Sauerhaft promised, saying that they would also be posted to the web.  Bob Wright said he agreed with Bob Flocchini’s comments that partnerships should be two-way and stakeholders should be involved. Joseph Rudek suggested that non-traditional partners should be used in emerging technologies research, and Wright agreed.

Annette Sharp asked whether the Department of Defense was a partner, and Wright stated that he thought so.  She continued that for states to use that data, EPA must approve the data. Also, both sides must know the tools. Regulators want the best technology available when drafting rules. She asked whether LIDAR was used only for emission on farms or also for long-range dispersion.  Wright answered that LIDAR was used on farms for estimating plume shape, identifying best locations for emissions sampling, and for development of dispersion models. 

Stephanie Whalen followed up on Calvin Parnell’s comments.  She said that the Task Force’s purpose was to recommend to the Secretary how air quality could best be regulated fairly.  Its requests for money seem not to be working, so it looked like only politics resulted in dollar allocation.  She advocated recommending to the Secretary that reallocating funds was not effective and that other means should be tried. Wright responded that over the years AQ has increased its visibility, but Whalen replied that it is a huge issue without resources.  Regulators are given unfunded mandates with time frames that they are exceeding, and they cannot go back to correct poor models and inaccurate data.  Time scale, ARS meetings about partnerships, and five-year CSREES programs are all important, but more is needed, especially determination of the distinction between global, farm, and forestry modeling. 

Mark Boese said that Calvin Parnell’s joke about regulators using any number they could get their hands on is true, and he asked for a research forecast of what is being done and when data will be available. Wright said he would compile and distribute information about ARS research on emissions.

Kevin Rogers spoke of the critical nature of farm and ranch operations, which for the past 8–10 years have been filing permits to comply with rules lacking scientific backing. USDA and ARS should be concerned about this, as producers want solid research numbers so that they can do the right thing.  Farmers need more money and better science to address current environmental issues.  

Avant asked who was developing emission factors, as the AP 42 numbers were off by orders of magnitude. He called for the appropriate researchers to determine the numbers for agricultural emissions.

Phillip Wakelyn asked for a list of research projects on ARS’s plate, especially regarding modeling long-range, down-wind conservation. EPA requires permits based on measurements at the boundary, but dispersion at the site and over complex terrain are also important. Wright agreed.

Bruce Knight asked that a list of brief biographies of participants be added to the action register, along with the ARS research list and modeling list.    

AM Public comment period:

Gerald Talbert, National Association of Conservation Districts, advocated a market-driven approach to carbon credit and water quality trading, which would push incentives to improve technology and efficiency. 

Dick Johnson, General Chemical Corporation, advocated use of aluminum sulfate and ferric sulfate to bind ammonia for large animal odor control and water purification operations and asked that all chemical precipitants be included in BMPs for manure management.

Rodney Kamper, Fresno dairyman, asked for NRCS to collaborate with local agencies in California to bring better science in air, water, and soil issues, and to educate dairyman about air quality issues.

Maggie Kerchner, NOAA Air Resources Laboratory, announced the October Workshop on long-term modeling and an ammonia workshop on quantifying, through measurement and modeling, emissions and deposition, and overfertilization.

Following lunch:

After lunch, Steve Shafer, ARS Global Change Office, gave a presentation on ARS’s research on the role of agriculture in emissions and sinks of greenhouse gases. Agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are 7% of the total GHG emissions, 2.4% of methane, 25% of CO2, and 75% of nitrous oxide emissions. Two areas of interest in CO2 research are the use of agricultural systems as “carbon sinks” and the impact of increased atmospheric CO2 on productivity. Research tools include the greenhouse gas reduction through the agricultural carbon enhancement (GRACEnet) program, the free-air CO2 exchange (FACE) program, open-top chambers, and tunnels.


Phillip Wakelyn wanted to know whether the breadth of study projects in ARS included all greenhouse gases. Shafer responded negatively and said that the ARS research agenda had now expanded to genetic resistance to O3 in plants. Wakelyn also wanted to know about sources of N2O and VOCs in agriculture. Shafer replied that he did not have any effort devoted to that and that he did not know of any agricultural impact on it.  Wakelyn agreed but noted that the extant numbers indicate that agriculture can indeed be held accountable. Shafer said that nitrous oxide may be emitted by rangeland microbial activity.

Sally Shaver, EPA, spoke on Title II regulations for irrigation engines.  She also noted the lack of sound data to support CAFO regulations (under the Clean Air Act) and said that EPA and USDA need to review research, improve protocols, more clearly characterize farms, and conduct more fate and transport research. She then turned her time over to Robert Flocchini.

Flocchini summarized the National Research Council’s report, “Air Emissions from Animal Feeding Operations: Current Knowledge, Future Needs.”

Sally Shaver continued to say that EPA was working with the USDA to follow up on process-based modeling and to develop research interests in process-based approaches for the next five years with the Initiative for Future Agricultural Assistance and IFAFS.

Due to a settlement agreement taking effect August 15 regarding AFOs in San Joaquin Valley, irrigation pumps on agricultural operations came under Title V permitting oversight in May, and other major sources have to apply by August 15.  EPA was working to get guidance regarding the definitions of a major source and fugitive and nonfugitive emissions out to farmers in the next 30–45 days.  Title II covers irrigation pumps in California; stationary mobile sources, such as nonroad engines manufactured after 1996, do not contribute to major source emissions. In April 2003, the EPA published a direct final rule to include in the definition of nonroad engine all diesel-powered engines used in agricultural operations in California that are manufactured after 1996 and that are manufacturer-certified to meet the nonroad emission standard. The EPA hoped this would act as an incentive for farmers to replace their older diesel engines, and USDA provided EQIP dollars to change out the diesel irrigation pumps. Farmers with older engines would still be subject to Title V. EPA published guidance and held training sessions to streamline the process of calculating emissions from engines subject to Title V. EPA has withdrawn the direct final rule and will respond to comments to the parallel proposed rule and promulgate a final rule in the near future.

The Task Force previously discussed a Voluntary/Incentive-Based Agricultural Policy). USDA and EPA still have internal discussions on-going; once all modifications have been worked out within and between agencies the document will be presented to the Task Force. .

Finally, recent decisions for criteria standards for the ozone standard and the fine particulate standard have produced a schedule of evaluation events. A consent decree filed May 19, 2003 regarding review of the standard will require a final review of the PM standard by December 2005, including both fine and coarse particles; the final criteria document is required by December of 2003. The notice of proposed rulemaking will come out in March 2005.  The final criteria document for ozone will be available in December of 2004, and the proposal in March 2006 with the final in December 2006. EPA has also developed an implementation strategy proposal for ozone, which was signed May 14, and will be published in the Federal Register with 60-day comment period and three public hearings in June.  The proposal sets forth several options for implementing the 8-hour ozone standard. The final rule should be in place by December 2003, with final designations of the 8-hour rule occurring in April 2004. The SIPs would be due in April 2007, and the attainment dates for these goals range from 2007 to 2021. The PM implementation rule has not been proposed yet, but is anticipated for September 2003 with the final rule to come in September 2004.  Shaver displayed a map of PM monitoring based on information gathered from 1999 to 2001. Eastern US counties and California counties are in nonattainment for ozone and fine PM, and there is a large void in center of US, indicating incomplete data.


Wakelyn asked for a summary of the dates Shaver had mentioned as well as the nonattainment maps. Shaver agreed to give the maps and a chart of the dates to Beth Sauerhaft for distribution.

Parnell asked whether the PM2.5 sampling was done in urban rather than rural areas (as the states normally do) and whether the EPA and ARS are examining the issue of potential oversampling.  Shaver replied that those issues were being examined and that they were appropriate for inclusion in the implementation discussion instead of the standards discussion.

Boyd asked how the EPA viewed ozone-generating equipment used to improve products by decreasing bacteria. Shaver said she would check into it.

Rudek asked whether there would be a public comment period for fugitive emissions issues, and Shaver replied that there probably would be public comment periods, but that no single policy for these issues had yet been established.

Ray Knighton, CSREES National Program Leader in Air Quality, gave a presentation on their Air Quality Program. CSREES works with land grant universities and other eligible institutions by providing funds and USDA extramural research and by serving as a link to USDA. CSREES supports over 9,500 researchers at research stations, laboratories, land grant universities, small businesses, and various science facilities; collaborates in eight multi-agency programs; and provides research support through the National Needs Graduate Fellows Program.  Its extension program is present in every county and provides outreach to local communities and 4-H programs; its primary function, however, is to provide funding through formula funding, competitive grant programs, and congressionally targeted programs. Air Quality Program funding has increased since 2002, with current research investments totaling approximately $7 million dollars.  Special research grants were awarded to Texas for CAFO work, California for agricultural sources of PM10 and ozone precursors, and Washington for agricultural PM10 emission prediction and control. The NRI Integrated Program in Air Quality seeks multistate, multidisciplinary, or multi-institutional applicants who will receive funding for programs that integrate research, education, and community extension work in areas dealing with emission data, improving measurement techniques, and fate and transport studies, and process-based modeling.


John Sweeten commended CSREES for adding an AQ program to their NRI grants program.

Robert Flocchini noted that though AQ was high on the priority list for research, it was still very low on the funding end and asked how long the targeted research programs were meant to last.  Knighton said that many congressional special research grants had a four-year cycle with a one-year extension period but that Congress sets the length of most grants. Knighton added that there was no limit on how many proposals a university may submit and that the proposals must be very well written and maintain a balance between all three elements of the program.

Allen Riebau, USDA Forest Service Research, gave a presentation on fire research pertaining to air quality, including fire meteorology and smoke management, Wilderness Class 1 Areas, and climate variability.  Air quality issues in forestry research include the smoke management plan, hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), PM2.5 and PM10, public endangerment, ozone, and visibility/regional haze issues. The National Forest Systems have supported the IMPROVE Monitoring Network, which monitors visibility across much of the U.S. While Forestry Research feels confident in its understanding of emission factors for particulate matter for open burning, it lacks information on emission factors for ozone and visibility. 

The Fire Consortia for Advanced Modeling and Meteorology of Smoke (FCAMMS) are cooperative research groups that each day deliver two 48-hour prediction models of meteorology, fire-related phenomena, and smoke dispersion across the country and develop and support contemporary computational resources needed to deliver timely products to fire fighters, air quality regulators, and the public. 

The Federal Land Manager Air Quality Working Group works with state air quality officials to identify particular air quality related values (AQRVs) for local Class I areas and to come to agreement on AQRV issues and Class I permitting issues. Forestry Research assists with this through two programs: Clear Skies, which addresses emissions in the energy-producing sector, and Healthy Forest, which is an initiative to improve the health of forests and is tied to the National Fire Plan regarding removal of fuel. ICP Forest Program Protocols, a large network developed by the European Union to measure air quality impacts to the ecosystem in remote areas, provides an avenue for the U.S. to work with other countries. Weather/climate variability such as the el niño and la niña phenomena affect fire issues. Other research projects include the Free Air Carbon Exchange Site in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, where research occurs on the effect of simultaneous ozone and carbon dioxide enrichment on trees.  Here, research seems to indicate that the effect of the doubling of CO2 as a fertilizer for trees is negated by the presence of ozone.

Questions: Stephanie Whalen asked if the rice industry has been involved in the five areas being modeled by FCAMMS; he said that he thought they had been slightly involved in the Pacific Northwest area.  Whalen asked about validation of models. The Missoula Fire Lab’s new Modus instrument on the Terra and Aqua Satellite and NOAA Air Resources Laboratory are using remote sensing to validate plume trajectories. Missoula Fire Lab has also done work with real-time ground measurements, but getting monitors into place and estimating where smoke is going to go is difficult.  The main focus, however, is on EPA and state regulatory-approved models as the basis for their work, because even if the models are inaccurate, they at least know some of why they are inaccurate.

James Vickery, Special Assistant to the Director of the National Exposure Lab, presented the “Strategic Research Plan for Particulate Matter,” based on work of the Air Quality Research Subcommittee of the Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources (CENR). The goal of formulating a strategic research plan was to protect public health and the environment through improving the scientific knowledge base on harmful effects due to airborne particulate matter.

Questions:  Phillip Wakelyn asked about the measurement of PM, the size cutoff point, and oversampling, because the size distribution impacts what is picked up. Vickery agreed that PM fractionation is important, but that researchers also need to know exactly what is present in the entire size range. Wakelyn responded that he wanted to know what the size cutoff point was when sampling for a specific size and whether methods differed in urban and rural settings.  Vickery replied that the methods need to be improved and that he would discuss that in his second presentation (following).

Dr. Vickery then gave a presentation on the state of PM science for policy makers, in which he discussed a three-year NARSTO project. NARSTO is a multi-national, multi-stakeholder entity that periodically conducts evaluations on air pollutants. The PM assessment’s purpose was to interpret complex science in such a way that it was useful to regulatory managers, to gather information for scientists developing causal hypotheses, and to present what is known and not known about eight major science questions. Its framework consisted of three parts: the atmospheric environment, exposure and impacts, and analysis and public policy; and its key research questions included exposure relationships and concentrations, characterization of emission sources, development and testing of air quality models, components of particulate matter, mechanisms of injury, dosimetry and fate, co-pollutant interaction, susceptibility, exposure misclassification, and cross-cutting issues. NARSTO made six recommendations in the Assessment: (1) achieve better understanding of carbonaceous aerosols; (2) perform long-term monitoring of particulate matter, precursors, and co-pollutants in parallel with health impacts studies; (3) develop and evaluate chemical transport models; (4) improve emissions inventories and models; (5) analyze and archive ambient data and foster interdisciplinary research; and (6) develop more systematic approaches to integrating diverse knowledge bases to assist in management practices.

Questions: none.

Doug McKinney, EPA Office of Research and Development, discussed air emissions from agricultural sources. The EPA’s agriculture-related air research aims to improve information about air emissions to support air quality modeling, inventory development, source-receptor modeling, and deposition to watersheds. Major program components include emissions from AFOs, nitrogen compound fluxes around production, and open burning emissions.  AFO emissions vary widely between farms; therefore an accurate process-based model is important. Agricultural emissions directly impact formation of PM2.5. Nitrogen compounds have watershed implications, and temperature and precipitation pattern changes affect wet deposition of ammonium nitrogen. The Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Program for ammonia sensors supports testing for ambient ammonia technologies and develops standard protocols and quality analysis.  Research programs are consistent with CENR, NARSTO, and NRC recommendations, though assessments show low confidence in measurements. Focusing on ammonia and nitrous oxide, collected data will improve methods of flux measurement to improve emission factors and develop process-based models. Research on PM and air toxins from wildfires and prescribed burning evaluates size distribution and chemical characteristics of PM and emission factors for toxins.  Major emphases in burning included tracers that identify what is burning by remote sensing and dioxin and furan air toxins. EPA collaborates with other institutions in many areas, including swine and poultry emission factors downwind plume dispersion from animal housing, and agricultural field burns. 


Calvin Parnell stated that ammonia data actually depends on where the sampling is done, and that ground sensors do not catch smoke from prescribed burning when the plume goes straight up. He wondered how field data for PM10 compared to burn chamber data. Stephanie Whalen echoed that curiosity, but wanted to know how burn hut data compared to California data. McKinney said they were very comparable once measurement units were converted and other factors were controlled.

Don Kopinski, EPA, spoke about AQ issues for mobile and nonroad diesel sources and the Tier 4 Program, a new, non-incremental program for nonroad diesel engines. The Tier 4 Program seeks to regulate fuel and engines so as to enable engines to change to catalytic converters.  The transition requires a 6–10 year lead-time and regulatory flexibility. The Tier 4 program requires a 7–year phase in for sulfur reduction to occur prior to introduction of new diesel engines and will result in a 1–2% increase in cost to produce the engine. Smaller engines, being a greater proportion of smaller equipment, will impact overall cost proportionately more. The net fuel increase will be approximately 1.5 cents per gallon.  NOX will also decrease significantly, and given the growth in the sector, NOX pollution would increase without the proposed changes.  Health benefits have been calculated to be up to 81B dollars per year in comparison to 1.5B dollars per year to implement the Tier 4 Program.  Biodiesel fuel is also good, due to its lubricity, and ought to be considered as an additive. Retrofits will not be available as they are not economically feasible, and the decreased sulfur content will eliminate distinctions between on and off-road diesel fuels. 


Kevin Rogers asked if there were an additional cost for biodiesel.  Kopinski replied that in a cost per gallon comparison, biodiesel added 10–20 cents more per gallon and without the tax rebate afforded by sulfur-free diesel fuel. Rogers also asked about biodiesel’s emission characteristics, and Kopinski said that biodiesel would not gum up the engine, but that the competitive edge program preserves the diesel option. John Sweeten asked whether consideration had been given to tying together with Tier 4 a credit program for nonroad diesel engines that can be upgraded . Kopinski replied that credit is offered for clean technology kits (expensive and difficult to install) that retrofit older diesel engines.  

PM Public Comment Period:

Nick Yaksizh, Vice President of the Association for Equipment Manufacturers, addressed EPA’s proposed off-road regulations.  His association’s major concerns included ensuring the availability of ultra-low sulfur fuel in rural areas; a meaningful evaluation of the economic and technological impact; ensuring a global alignment of requirements; ensuring a reasonable lead time and stability between requirement changes for manufacturers to recoup capital investments and implementation flexibility; technological review; and an evaluation of the potential impact on equipment manufacturers, the equipment, and on the end user.

Trisha Marsh Johnson, Jones-Hamilton Co., spoke about litter amendment treatments and indicated that her company had a 95% market share in the poultry industry. She emphasized the importance of testing and evaluating which treatment actually work and warned that some treatments were banned due to adverse reactions in birds and employees.  She asked the Task Force to recommend amendment technologies that show a positive food safety benefit without having other adverse impacts and offered to share the Jones-Hamilton database of variables such as season, bird density, and ventilation type from three thousand farms.

Alan Shafer of the Diesel Technology Forum made five points: (1) diesel fuel is valuable on farms due to its reliability and efficiency; (2) the industry has already made progress, reducing emissions by 13% over 10 years; (3) new engines, regulated since 1996, have also shown great progress and are very effective; (4) challenges facing the industry are aggressive, but as everyone wants good products, costs and benefits must be balanced; (5) instead of building new engines, one could retrofit, repower, refuel, rebuild, repair, or replace an existing engine.

USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force

Meeting Minutes

May 21, 2003
Hall of States Building

Rm. 333, 444 N. Capitol St.

Washington, DC

The main agenda item for the second day of the meeting was to set goals for Task Force’s tenure. Robert Flocchini requested that CDs with a copy of all the presentations on it be distributed to the Task Force. Annette Sharp and Kevin Rogers prefaced the discussion with an overview of past issues addressed by the Task Force.  See Appendix B for complete discussion of this.

Bruce Knight introduced Bob Ensor who then facilitated the discussion. Ensor set up a chart that listing the Task Force’s objective of advising the Secretary of Agriculture on air quality issues, goals and actions including responsibilities and timelines. Task Force members generated a list of goals they thought were appropriate for the Task Force.  Similar goals were merged, and then the group decided how to categorize them.  The rough outline of goals is presented in Appendix A.

After considerable discussion, the four categories decided upon were: Research, Policy, Emerging Issues and Education/Technology Transfer.

AM Public Comment Session:

Trisha Marsh Johnson of Jones-Hamilton Company addressed the Task Force about the EQIP program.  She stated that it was antiquated in design and did not allow for funding the needs of vertically integrated animal agriculture.  The most effective management (e.g., feed management) of litter amendments would be improved if integration were implemented and funded. EQIP does not support integration, and therefore the farmer will not decide to use it. Some states and approximately 5–10 counties have implemented vertical integration; however it is difficult to advise the family farmer because they are not the decision-makers.

Following lunch:

The Task Force agreed that they would prioritize the goals by teleconference and bring to the next meeting for discussion goals that would be concise, replicable (if involving research experiments), and verifiable with measurable outcomes.

Discussion followed about potential meeting dates and locations.  It was agreed upon that the next meeting would be in Oklahoma August 27-29 and other dates and locations would be discussed by email.


The following are the four categories decided upon by the group which goals should fall into and the members associated with these groups (name in italics is subcommittee chair/co-chair):

Research-Avant, Coleman, Boese, Lamb, Wright, Wakelyn, Flocchini, Parnell

Policy-Bunker, Shaver, Jackman, Roper, Rudek, Whalen, Shelmidine

Emerging Issues-Rogers, Sweeten, Parnell, Isom, Trotter, Aneja

Education/Technology Transfer-Maupin, Boyd, Sharma, Sharp, Knighton

The following are the 53 goals the group recommended for possible pursuit during this charter separated by grouping:

Education/Technology Transfer

1. Dev recommendations for immediately decreasing ammonia/odor emissions from CAFOs.

2. Minimize detrimental air emissions from agriculture,

4. Help determine how large a part agriculture plays in our airsheds.

5. Create farmer friendly system.

7. Identify technologies to help agriculture meet NAAQS.

10. Help agencies identify & evaluate standards & practices.

11. Evaluate effectiveness of existing practices for emissions reduction.

12. Recommend public education/outreach for air quality.

15. Ensure requirements and standards are practical and economical to ensure participation. 

16. What are impediments to using biomass to energy fuels.

17. Development of good science for emission factors and BMP’s that maximize reductions in a cost-effective manner.

18. Provide information need and suggested approaches for agricultural sector involvement in development of State Implementation Plans (SIPs) and Smoke management plans (SMPs) for PM2.5, ozone, and regional haze.

21. Improve use of public/private partnerships to increase speed/delivery of air research initiatives.

23. Develop incentive-based approach prior to regulatory approach. 

24. Evaluate agriculture energy emissions for various technologies.

26. Give Secretary honest advice

27. Any system must be understandable, have reasonable reporting standards & tasks that can be accomplished. 

29. Work toward development of standards/markets for economic income for agriculture—i.e, C-credits, fuels. 

35. Provide list of requirements, steps to follow, who are resources, etc., to those who will comply—that is easy to follow. 

39. Agencies--identify standards/practices available in agricultural

40. Assure coordinated public/private agenda to address priority needs

43. Identify detrimental air emissions from agriculture.

47. Catalyst for jointly educating agriculture and regulatory communities together on issues, limitations of knowledge and science-based mitigation technologies. 

50. Provide reasonable economic alternatives to agricultural burning. 

51. Provide information and suggestions for agricultural involvement in RPO’s for air quality.


1. Dev recommendations for immediately decreasing ammonia/odor emissions from CAFOs.

2. Minimize detrimental air emissions from agriculture,

3. Ensure USDA/EPA support for AG Air Group proposal to EPA for scientific monitoring of emissions from AFO/CAFOs.

4. Help determine how large a part agriculture plays in our airsheds.

7. Identify technologies to help agriculture meet NAAQS.

8. Develop framework for merging water and air quality interests—agendas. 

9.   Shorten agency time constants.

10. Help agencies identify & evaluate standards & practices.

11. Evaluate effectiveness of existing practices for emissions reduction.

15. Ensure requirements and standards are practical and economical to ensure participation. 

16. What are impediments to using biomass to energy fuels.

17. Development of good science for emission factors and BMP’s that maximize reductions in a cost-effective manner.

18. Provide information need and suggested approaches for agricultural sector involvement in development of State Implementation Plans (SIPs) and Smoke management plans (SMPs) for PM2.5, ozone, and regional haze.

20. Bring science-based and common sense recommendations to decision makers.

22. Give USDA Secretary and EPA a system to measure success.

24. Evaluate agriculture energy emissions for various technologies.

25. USDA provide leadership for creating agricultural production and sales of renewable fuels from farm byproducts. 

26. Give Secretary honest advice

29. Work toward development of standards/markets for economic income for agriculture—i.e, C-credits, fuels. 

30. Work toward increased funding for research and education. 

37. Provide for understanding by USDA and production agriculture of process, timeline, and impact of air quality requirements.

39. Agencies--identify standards/practices available in agricultural

43. Identify detrimental air emissions from agriculture.

45. Define differences between farming/ranching and agriculture.

49. Develop process for resolving recommendations to Secretary on all issues such as CERCLA and CAFO’s.

54. Make sure recommendations to Secretary include full range of agricultural interests including minority farmers.


6. Develop accurate agricultural emission factors.

13. Appropriate regulation of  air emissions from agriculture operations.

14. USDA should assist EPA in revision of emission factors using best available data.

19. Animal’s role in the issue to decrease emissions (water and air).

33. Improve fate and transport models.

34. New methodology for regulating air emissions from agricultural operations based on process-based models. 

36. Recommendations regarding monitoring protocols in agriculture.

41. Develop recognized standard as system for measurement of agricultural air emissions.

42. Provide details for implementation of NRC CAFO research priorities.

44. Funding details related to NRC CAFO research priorities.

46. Resolve the PM monitor bias issue.

48. Implement recommendations associated with findings 11, 12, and 13 of NRC Report.

50. Provide reasonable economic alternatives to agricultural burning. 

52. Quantify other social, health and environmental benefits that are associated with AQ research. 

Emerging Issues

28. Call for research summit for Ag emission factors protocol development.

31. Recognize emerging technologies

32. Anticipate major AQ issues before they emerge.

38. Call a research summit on agricultural AQ modeling. 


Sharp and Rogers began with the Memorandum of Understanding between USDA and EPA to cooperate and communicate regarding air quality. The AAQTF recommended an agricultural burning policy to both the Secretary of Agriculture and the EPA Administrator and developed the voluntary incentive-based compliance program. Rogers explained that the voluntary program was begun because members recognized the need to act immediately on farms even though air quality data was lacking.  Working with ARS and universities, the Task Force established set priorities for a research agenda, and then formed a separate subcommittee that identified and prioritized agricultural emission factors so states would not make up numbers.  The Task Force also developed a national survey to prioritize information needed by state and local regulators, federal policy developers, and private citizens and received 163 responses.  It made recommendations about research and technology surrounding CAFOs to the Secretary of Agriculture and made recommendations to both the Secretary and to the EPA Administrator regarding CERCLA/EPCRA reporting requirement as they are being applied to air emissions from CAFOs and other agriuclural operations that are meeting the intent of the Clean Air Act. Calvin Parnell stated that CERCLA was not intended for natural emissions such as CAFOs; Calvin Parnell asked Dr. Shaw to provide more explanation about CERCLA and CAFOs at this point. Sally Shaver said that the right-to-know provision in CERCLA may be an issue. Fertilizer operations were exempt from CERCLA, but the status of other air emissions relative to CERCLA is unclear. Annette Sharp said that the revised Title V Permit requirements were applicable to agricultural sources. Garth Boyd asked how EPA could support the Right-to-Know provisions of CERCLA if the requirements are not clear, and Sally Shaver replied that the EPA was making assumptions but was still working to clarify the issue. CERCLA will use the same emission factors that air quality administrators use, and the agency will resolve this issue before it goes forward.

Sharp and Rogers resumed their presentation by continuing to describe recommendations made to EPA and USDA heads about Title V Permit requirements for agricultural sources.  They followed with a list of topics pursued for agricultural interest, such as PM10 monitors and sampling bias, definitions of agriculture and farming, and global warming, and concluded that it was important to understand what drives air quality regulations regarding agriculture.

Dave Roper asked about the discrepancy between applying manure fertilizer and commercial fertilizer to land: emissions for manure applications are to be reported, and the reporting requirements are unclear. Annette Sharp agreed about the discrepancy and pointed out that there are regulations for air, solids, and water. State agencies are too compartmentalized and need a bigger picture.  She recommended keeping the issue in front of the states and to request policy clarifications in writing. Also, if the operation employs fewer than 350 people, it qualifies for Small Business Assistance Programs, which offer free consultation to assist farmers in knowing their responsibilities and in filling out proper forms.  Dave Roper asked if that would be on the List of Technical Service Providers, and how would forms be completed if the state did not have permitting authority. Sharp replied that would be a big issue. While Calvin Parnell said that Title V and PSD are part of the CAA, while CERCLA is not.  A 100-pound emission limit for ammonia is not a rule or law, but litigation regarding CERCLA was recently settled for $25 million. It therefore requires CAFOs to prove that the 100-pound limit is not exceeded. But industrial releases must be reported, so use of that regulation requires a better consensus.

Annette Sharp asked about the agricultural burning policy, except in Western states, where the Western Regional Air Planning, developed under CAA in 1991, improved visibility in Class 1 wilderness areas, and how smoke management planning was going in the four regional planning areas.  Allen Riebau replied that it may be tardy.

Other topics of interest to agriculture include global warming and carbon sequestration; clean energy issues (especially how to sell it); the ability to model agricultural air quality emissions; agricultural conservation practices that equate to air quality control practices; tillage and harvesting practices (tours help regulators understand better what occurs on a farm); the variation of ammonia standards between states (some of which are based on faulty science); the NAS CAFO study; regional haze based on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone, PM, SOX, NOX, lead, and carbon monoxide; PM fugitive emissions; fuel issues; and recommendations for research priorities that would provide solid science for agricultural air quality programs and promoting education between producers and state regulators. The regional haze decision was new and beneficial in that it forced states to work together as “airsheds.”

Dave Roper said that Iowa’s proposed ammonia threshold standard was repealed because it could not be met. Rita Sharma noted that producers could not teach their experiences to regulators but could only transmit that information about what agriculture is capable of doing. She herself preferred to work locally, then on a statewide basis, and only then nationally or globally. Sharma asked if airsheds combine agricultural practices with municipalities, and Sharp said yes.  Kevin Rogers said that PM10 fuel issues regarding new engines and sulfur reduction were separate issues on the farm. Robert Wright is the lead. Education is still important, and Roper suggested that regional agencies be invited to meet and tour with the Task Force, as some regulators had never been out of their offices.