A dozen farm groups from across the country, including Save Family Farming and the Washington State Dairy Federation, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler urging him to take action and formally withdraw the Yakima Valley Nitrate Report. The report, originally published in 2013 and based on shoddy science and failed to follow the proper peer review protocols, put some local farms out of business and cost others millions of dollars.

Recently released documents show that the EPA knew that they were in violation of policy when publishing the report, but covered up their wrongdoings and continued to push their false narrative.

The letter read as follows:

Dear Administrator Wheeler,

We are writing to express our extreme displeasure with EPA’s failure to withdraw EPA-910-R-13-004, entitled “Relation Between Nitrate in Water Wells and Potential Sources in the Lower Yakima Valley, Washington,” (the “Yakima Report”). The Yakima Report is the result of misrepresented science, failure to adhere to administrative procedures, subsequent inaccurate statements regarding agency actions, and misrepresentations by EPA staff.

The Yakima Report was utilized by EPA Region 10 to pressure farmers in Eastern Washington State into signing a Consent Order with EPA. EPA then failed to defend the Consent Order (despite a promise to do so) in light of a threatened private attorney general action, and a federal judge used the Yakima Report and Consent Order as the basis for a ruling that applied the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act to farm use of fertilizer. 

During the development of the Yakima Report, Consent Order process, and lawsuit, EPA:

  • Failed to acknowledge the study parameters were designed to produce specific outcomes.
  • Failed to act when the study was roundly criticized by PhDs, agencies, and more as having poor data, poor processes, and poor outcomes
  • Failed to follow federal policy concerning external peer review.
  • Changed the designation of the level of science in an apparent attempt to lower external peer review requirements.
  • Made false claims that it never changed the designation of the level of science.

The bottom line is this: Farmers were presented a skewed “science” report, prompting them to enter into a Consent Order, sued as a result, and saddled with court ruling entirely premised on these fatally flawed underpinnings.

The national implications are tremendous. Environmental activists are intent on using the court decision premised on the Yakima Report to apply RCRA to livestock operations across the country. The implications for farmers nationwide could hardly be more alarming.

Attached is a history of the relevant actions, meetings, and statements involved in this matter of national importance. Considering this clear evidence, we implore you to take immediate action to correct these injustices. EPA documents from Region 10 show what has happened with this matter. Those documents, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, have been provided to senior staff at both the Region 10 and national offices of EPA.

The Trump Administration came into office with promises of reform, forthrightness, honesty, and respectful treatment of farmers. Administrator Wheeler, we implore you to act decisively and immediately to right these wrongs and show farmers across the nation that EPA is serious in delivering on the promise of President Trump for meaningful reform and a government that our farmers can rely upon to do the right thing.

EPA must formally withdraw EPA-910-R-13-004, entitled “Relation Between Nitrate in Water Wells and Potential Sources in the Lower Yakima Valley, Washington.”

  • Washington State Dairy Federation
  • Save Family Farming
  • American Dairy Coalition
  • National Milk Producers Federation
  • Texas Association of Dairymen
  • Agri-Mark Dairy Cooperative
  • Northeast Dairy Farmers Cooperatives
  • Dairy Producers of New Mexico
  • Idaho Dairymen’s Association
  • Oregon Dairy Farmers Association
  • Dairy Producers of Utah
  • Northwest Council of Farmer Cooperatives

The full background of the EPA Nitrate fiasco in the Yakima Valley is available here. Separate letters sent earlier in the month by the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, the Washington Farm Bureau, and Washington Friends of Farms and Forests were also sent earlier in the month.