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Agreed Temporary Injunction Filed in State of TN Vs. Browning Land & Cattle Company LLC

By Jessie Williams 

An Agreed Temporary Injunction has been made in the case  of the State of the Tennessee,  Vs. Browning Land & Cattle Company LLC, owned by Trace and Rita Browning.

According to the document filed on February 20, 2024, in the Davidson County Chancery Court, the cattle company has submitted incomplete Water Quality Control Act (WQCA) permit applications since the state filed an action for alleged violations of the WQCA on December 8, 2023. The same day, the state filed a Motion for Temporary Injunction, seeking to halt all cattle feeding operations at the site within 30 days.

The Agreed Temporary Injunction lists four items that are currently outstanding and requested from Browning Cattle Company for its WQCA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit application. 

The Agreed Temporary Injunction was filed to establish limits on the number of cattle that may be raised, fed, managed or held on the property while the WQCA permit applications are pending.

The document states Browning Cattle Company has been decreasing the number of cattle at the site, and since the December 8, 2022 filed action has reduced the number from 6,300 to 1,495.

A summarized list of the Agreed Temporary Injunction terms are as follows:

Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED that:

1.The Site shall operate with a maximum limit of 999 cattle starting within 30 days of entry of this Agreed Temporary Injunction, continuing until the effective date of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued.

2. Defendants Browning Cattle Company (BCC) and Browning Land & Cattle Company (BLC) shall submit complete applications for both construction of the sediment and holding ponds and the NPDES permit for a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) at the Site to Tennessee Departed of Environment & Conservation (TDEC) pursuant to an agreed upon schedule.

3. TDEC commits to make reasonable efforts to expedite review of the permit applications within applicable statutory deadlines. Upon receipt of the information described in paragraph 2 of this Agreed Temporary Injunction, TDEC will make best efforts to respond within five business days providing the status or expectations regarding further review or proceeding.

4. Within 30 days of entry of this Order, Defendants shall submit for TDEC approval an Interim Pollutant Reduction Plan (IPRP) for control of erosion and discharges of pollutants from the Site while Defendants’ permit applications and completion of associated environmental controls are pending. Defendants shall implement the approved IPRP until the effective date of an approved Stormwatcr Pollution Prevention Plan, Construction General Permit, or CAFO Permit issued for the Site, or by Order or Action of any Court.

5. The inclusion of best management practices or features in the IPRP which are exempt from WQCA including those identified in the TDA and TDEC “TDEC Construction and Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit (ARAP) Requirements for Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Practices” (Feb. 2018) and WQCA or NPDES program as applicable, does not constitute a waiver as to any legal position, defense, or claim with respect to regulatory status or permit requirements.

6. Defendants may land apply or land spray apply manure generated on-Site at parcels

identified in the BCC CAFO Permit Application Maps of Application Sites and Planned Manure Applications in accordance with listed requirements.

7.   TDEC reserves its right to designate the Site as a CAFO for 300-999 cattle pursuant to Rule 0400-40-05-.I4(4) in the event BCC and BLC do not (1) timely submit necessary information identified under this Order, or (2) obtain an NPDES CAFO permit for the Site within 365 days after TDEC determines the application is complete.

8. BCC shall submit to the Court a report of the number of cattle that are being raised, fed, managed, or otherwise held on the Site, within thirty days of entry of this Agreed Temporary Injunction and every 90 days thereafter until the Site obtains WQCA NPDES CAFO permit coverage.

9. The Court, or TDEC may, for good cause shown, extend the compliance dates contained within this Agreed Temporary Injunction. As to a TDEC extension, in order to be eligible for this time extension, Defendants shall submit a written request to be received in advance of the compliance date.

10. Defendants neither admit nor deny statements regarding any factual allegation the State alleges in this Agreement. The State neither admits nor denies the factual allegations Defendants allege in this Agreement.

12. Defendant Trace Browning believes no enforcement action should be directed against him related to this Site but agrees to take no action that is inconsistent with this Agreed Temporary Injunction.

13. This Agreed Temporary Injunction shall survive in the event of a change in venue as is currently pending for consideration by motion before the Court.

14. This Agreed Temporary Injunction shall terminate upon (1) the effective date of a NPDES CAFO permit for the Site and when the Site has all necessary controls in place pursuant to the NPDES permit or (2) by order of any Court upon motion or request of any party, including final disposition of this litigation by any Court or interim motion or request regarding applicability of the WQCA.

Browning Cattle Company LLC operates a cattle feeding operation on multiple properties at and around 3479 Leonard Rd. in Red Boiling Springs, and has been found to be in violation of permit requirements by the state since August of 2022.