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Farm groups fear regulations will deter next generation

Photo by Ben Nuelle

Major farm organizations Wednesday talked about how American farming and ranching communities are impacted by federal environmental regulations and policies.

Representatives from the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF),  National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), State of Delaware and National Farmers Union (NFU) Wednesday spoke to members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Farm organizations voiced concerns about overbearing regulations, such as the Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS). Zippy Duvall, AFBF president, says WOTUS “epitomizes the failure of our current regulatory system.”

“The law that governs this process, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), is more than 70-years-old and is way overdue for reform,” Duvall said.

Dr. Don Teske, NFU vice president, voiced a similar viewpoint. Teske believes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could have better crafted the bill. He says it would have been nice to see a bill based off some farmer input.

“When WOTUS was introduced, it created a vicious backlash, and probably rightly so,” Teske said. “We were never brought into the discussion as WOTUS was developed or introduced. I wonder how a farmer relationship in there might of changed it and how it might have been perceived.”

While not keen of WOTUS, Teske suggests it would be unwise to eliminate all regulations.

“Our goal through this is to create a world for our grandchildren, (one where) they can thrive and prosper in, and it’s our responsibility. This isn’t something for us to push off onto our children and it’s too late for our ancestors. Somehow we need to figure out how to work together to protect our environment and allow our farmers to farm profitably. And we can do that. But throwing the baby out with the bathwater by eliminating all regulations is irresponsible,” Teske said.

Duvall, however, says America needs to reduce over regulatory burdens in order for the next generation to remain on the farm and grow food for America and countries around the world.

“As committed as young people who are farming and ranching are, they cannot continue if the over regulatory burdens continue to grow,” Duvall said. “Farm income is down about 50-percent compared to five years ago, but I assure you that the regulatory costs have not gone down any. These facts would give pause to any, even the most dedicated farmer and rancher around this country.”

Farm groups also voiced concerns over the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA).