Congress must help alleviate the burden of an ever-increasing array of federal environmental regulations on agriculture. That’s what Arizona Farm Bureau President Kevin Rogers had to tell a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. Representing the American Farm Bureau Federation, Rogers told the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy that the breadth and extent of the regulatory challenges facing U.S. agriculture are tremendous.
"It is no exaggeration to say that the onslaught of federal regulations now confronting farmers and ranchers across America is truly overwhelming," said Rogers. "A farmer trying to manage his land and his crops knows one thing; the federal government is making it tougher and tougher to make a living from the land."
According to Rogers, the regulations cover a broad range of issues including: Clean Air Act requirements, Clean Water Act permitting and other requirements, restrictions on pesticides and other farm in-puts and regulatory burdens involving both crops and livestock operations.
While not all regulations can be quantified, Rogers says that some can. He outlined three steps Congress can take to alleviate agriculture’s regulatory burdens: 1/ Adopt language in the House Interior Appropriations bill that incorporates the provisions of H.R. 910, a bill that would allow Congress, not the Environmental Protection Agency, to determine how to regulate greenhouse gases. 2/ Congress should adopt language that would prevent EPA from regulating agricultural dust, forcing many rural areas into non-attainment status. And 3/ Congress should approve H.R. 2458, which would provide a realistic interval for updating national ambient air quality standards.
Rogers says H.R. 2458 would put the update on air quality on a 10 year cycle rather than the current five year cycle that often has EPA changing the standard before the state has a chance to comply with the previous standard.
Rogers concluded that these pieces of legislation effectively balance environmental concerns with those of farmers and ranchers. These are critical legislative initiatives that must be pursued.