According to a comprehensive review by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division has been remarkably lax in regulating large-scale factory farms. Over the past three years the organization has issued only a single fine for pollution violations. Environmental advocates claim that in a state with dozens of factory farms, officially known as concentrated animal feeding operations, this level of citation is grossly below average.
EPD officials say that the low numbers of fines are proof that Georgia farmers are acting responsibly and that there simply aren’t a high level of environmental violations. The EPD district coordinator claimed that the organization simply doesn’t receive many complaints.
Environmental activists disagree, claiming that the EPD is simply laying down on the job. In February, for example, a Georgia farmer was cited for dumping gallons of liquefied cow manure into a freshwater pond, a pond which fed into surrounding streams and water sources. After months of investigation, the farmer agreed to bring his farm up to regulation and attend waste management classes. He was not fined by the EPD.
This failure to regulate, activists claim, is endemic in the EPD. In addition to a reluctance to fine farmers, many of whom might simply go out of business in the face of high pollution fines, the EPD is also slow to regulate environmental violations. For example, the EPD took three years to fully investigate a southeastern Georgia poultry farm that was reported for improper manure storage.
In the wake of this heightened scrutiny, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is stepping in to monitor Georgia farm regulations, requiring reports and updates regarding farm pollution violations.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer