The Representation for Farmers Act, a bi-partisan bill, has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind. The legislation would give the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to appoint up to three members to the Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisory Board. Currently the board has 50 members, none of which have an agricultural background. The bill is designed to make sure American farmers are represented in the decision-making process for environmental policies and regulations that could impact agriculture.
"Our farmers deserve to be represented in any decisions that affect their ability to continue to grow and produce the highest-quality food in the world," Klobuchar said. "This bill will give farmers a seat at the table and ensure that common-sense considerations are taken into account for any environmental policies."
The addition of farmers would allow the Board to not only provide sound scientific analysis but also practical analysis of how proposed regulations and standards would be implemented on the ground. Recently regulations that have been proposed by the EPA have raised concerns with farm groups. Among them are dust provisions on dirt roads and requirements for dairies to have spill prevention plans that are designed for oil operations.
"Regulatory actions taken by the EPA can have significant impacts on farmers of all sizes," Lugar said. "The ability of our nation's farms to continue to safely produce an abundant food supply is imperative, and I believe this bill will improve the regulatory decision-making process."
During a hearing on EPA's impact on agriculture last Thursday, Klobuchar discussed the bill and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said she was open to the legislation and asked to see the specific provisions of the bill.