Preparing for an EPA or DNR Inspection: Part II
11-21-2016 in Livestock
Iowa’s livestock farmers are subject to inspections by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Because these assessments usually occur with little or no notice to the farmer, it is essential to be prepared for your livestock or poultry farm to be inspected at any time. Follow these simple compliance checks to ensure your farm is in accordance with the environmental rules and regulations, and to learn how to best respond to potential DNR or EPA inquiries.
Part II: During the Inspection
1.) Accompany the Inspector & Cooperate with Requests for Information
After notifying all family members or employees that an enforcement official will be evaluating the farm’s environmental compliance, direct the point of contact to accompany the inspector at all times. If the inspector takes notes, photos or samples, so should the point person. If the inspector requests a copy of certain records, be sure the point of contact also makes a copy and obtains receipts for any samples or original documents that will leave the farm. Following these steps will allow you to know exactly what information the inspector has collected and will serve as evidence against any disputes or discrepancies in the future.
During the EPA or DNR inspection, it is also important to cooperate, but not speculate. Although it may seem natural to put up your defenses, remember that federal law prohibits knowingly and willfully falsifying or concealing material facts or making fraudulent statements of material facts. Answer the agent’s questions truthfully while not volunteering information beyond what was asked of you. If you don’t know an answer, assure the inspector you will follow-up in a timely fashion.
2.) Claim Confidentiality & Determine if Employee Interviews will be Conducted
If applicable, claim any records the inspector requests as confidential business information (CBI) to protect trade secrets or other private business matters. Failure to claim CBI may waive your farm’s claim and subject the records to public scrutiny.
In the event the inspector wishes to formally interview specific individuals other than the point of contact, notify legal counsel immediately. A request for interviews may signal the EPA or DNR is building a record against your farm.
3.) Request an Exit Interview
Rather than waiting to receive the inspectors final report, request an exit interview to learn as much as possible about the investigator’s findings. This step will allow you to ensure the agent’s conclusions are not based on inadequate information or a misunderstanding, and it will help you determine how to handle any potential disputes.
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