Challenging FSA’s Medium-sized CAFO Exemptions

A coalition of organizations, including the Animal Legal Defense Fund, filed a lawsuit challenging a 2016 regulation issued by the Farm Service Agency that exempts medium-sized CAFOs from environmental review under NEPA.

Updated

September 12, 2019

Work Type

Litigation

Status

Active

Filed on October 17, 2019

Next Step

Awaiting court order

Response due October 31, 2019

On December 5, 2018, a coalition of organizations, including the Animal Legal Defense Fund, filed a lawsuit challenging a 2016 regulation issued by the Farm Service Agency that exempts medium-sized concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) from environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The lawsuit argues that this exemption violates two federal laws — NEPA and the Administrative Procedure Act.

Who is being sued, why, and under what law? The lawsuit was brought against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. In the lawsuit, we argue that a 2016 regulation issued by the Farm Service Agency that exempts medium-sized CAFOs from environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) violates two federal laws: NEPA and the Administrative Procedure Act.

What court is the lawsuit filed in? U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Why this case is important: CAFOs generate massive amounts of waste, contaminating air, drinking water, and surface waters, impacting the health of both people and animals. Due to the threats these facilities pose to the environment and public health, NEPA requires federal agencies like the Farm Service Agency to conduct environmental reviews before granting loans for CAFOs.

Removing an entire class of CAFOs from NEPA’s purview greatly undercuts the law’s ability to protect our environment. Moreover, doing so violates federal law.

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