The EPA claims in the Alt case that this exemption does not apply to larger livestock and poultry farms, like Alt's. The EPA basically claims that Alt's family farm isn't "agricultural" and rainwater from her farmyard isn't "agricultural storm water," just because she houses more than a certain number of chickens.
The suit by Alt challenges just how much power the EPA has under the Clean Water Act permitting system.
The issues raised in her lawsuit are national in scope and affect thousands of other livestock and poultry farmers threatened by the EPA's extreme and unlawful restriction of the agricultural storm water exemption.
Burdensome and unnecessary regulations are always a point of contention for farmers, especially when we are being flooded with what seems to be never-ending, nonsensical rules. The EPA has a tendency to pile on regulatory burdens with little regard for the costs for landowners.
Most people would agree that $37,500 per day, or $13.6 million a year, for a chicken farm is outrageous. This is especially true for someone like Alt, who tried to make things right with the EPA, which answered only that she must obtain the costly permit.
For Alt, who is now worried about having to mortgage - and possibly even losing - her farm because of the hefty EPA fines, that's not good enough.
Her efforts to defend herself and her family's farm against an illegal EPA order are commendable.
More admirable is that Alt took a stand against the EPA because she knew if she was intimidated into applying for a needless and costly permit, other farmers could feel compelled to do the same.
Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Columbus, Texas, is president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.