Friday, October 01, 2010

Senate Ag Committee Holds Hearing On EPA

On Thursday, September 23, 2010, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held a hearing to examine the impact of recent Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations on agriculture. Ag Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln, in her opening statement, said that farmers, ranchers, and foresters are faced with at least ten new regulatory requirements that will increase their costs and hinder their ability to compete in a global market. “In the face of these stark realities, our farmers, ranchers and foresters need clear, straightforward and predictable rules to live by that are not burdensome, duplicative, costly, unnecessary, or, in some cases just plain bizarre.”

The EPA regulations to which Lincoln was referring include Clean Water Act permit requirements for pesticide applications, boiler MACT regulation, ambient air quality standards for particulate matter, and greenhouse gas regulations. In speaking of these regulations, all developed under the current administration, Senator Lincoln stated: “Most, if not all, of these regulations rely on dubious rationales and, as a consequence, will be of questionable benefit to the goal of conservation and environmental protection.”

The other Senate Ag Committee members were clear in their opinions and concern that EPA appears to be over-regulating farmers and ranchers.

Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator of the EPA, testified before the Committee. Jackson stated that the EPA has not unfairly targeted agriculture and is willing to work with farmers, ranchers, and foresters in a sensible manner to find workable solutions, although no specific solutions were discussed during the hearing.

Others who testified at the hearing included Rich Hillman, Arkansas Farm Bureau Vice President, Jay Vroom, President and Chief Executive Officer of CropLife America in Washington, DC, and Jere White, Executive Director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association in Barnett, Kansas.

Regarding the pesticide-application requirements, Vroom said, “Recently, the businesses that support American agriculture have seen serious deviations from the regular order, transparency and scientific integrity of the Federal government’s pesticide review process. We hope that today’s hearing will put EPA, other agencies and agriculture back on a path to a more productive dialogue that leads to reasonable, timely, and consistent solutions to our shared concerns.”

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