Friday, January 14, 2011

Farm Bureau Calls For Congressional Oversight Of EPA

Jan 11: Delegates at the American Farm Bureau Federation's (AFBF's) 92nd Annual Meeting voted to maintain a strong farm income safety net, address dairy price volatility and urge greater oversight of regulatory actions by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As Congress prepares to draft a new farm bill later this year and in 2012, the delegates reiterated their support for extending the concepts of the 2008 farm bill. American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said, "The 2008 farm bill has worked as farmers and ranchers have weathered market ups and downs over the last four years. It's important to maintain a program that protects our nation's food, fiber and fuel supply and the consumers who rely on agriculture's productivity."

    The delegates approved a resolution calling for more congressional oversight of U.S. EPA's regulatory actions. They asked Congress to assess the impact that EPA regulations would have on agriculture and to consider legislation to stop EPA's regulation of greenhouse gases. Stallman said, "EPA's regulatory reach continues to metastasize at the expense of our ability to produce food, fiber and fuel, and EPA often does not recognize the contributions that farmers and ranchers have made to reduce soil loss and produce more with less land, water, nutrients and other inputs. We need more common sense and less negativity toward production agriculture in the enforcement of the nation's existing environmental statutes."

    AFBF also announced on January 10, during the annual meeting, that it was filing a Federal lawsuit to halt the EPA's recently announced Chesapeake Bay pollution regulatory plan. AFBF said that the Agency overreached by setting up a plan for the entire 64,000 square-mile Chesapeake watershed, usurped state control, relied on faulty data and failed to account for agriculture's contributions to improving water quality, and provided insufficient information and time for the public to check EPA's actions.
    U.S. Representative Frank Lucas (R-OK), the new Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, issued a statement at the conclusion of the AFBF annual meeting saying, "I commend the American Farm Bureau Federation and all of its members for the work they do on behalf of America's farmers and ranchers. The Farm Bureau continues to be a strong advocate for our producers and continues to provide common sense solutions to the issues facing rural America.
    "The resolutions AFBF passed during the annual meeting will serve as an important guide as we begin the process of reauthorizing the farm bill in 2012. . . I want to commend the Farm Bureau for taking a strong stance on one of the most significant issues facing American agriculture: the hostile regulatory approach of the EPA. As the new Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, I pledge to hold vigorous oversight of the administration on a number of issues that threaten the livelihoods of our farmers and ranchers.
    "I welcome the Farm Bureau's continued efforts to rein in the EPA's aggressive attempt to impose new regulations on agricultural production throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, which has far reaching consequences for the entire U.S.  We all support the goal of achieving clean water, but EPA is moving forward with accelerated and questionable regulations without considering the consequences for farmers and rural communities or without considering the ongoing conservation measures our producers are using to improve water quality."
    U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the new Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry did not have a public statement on the AFBF actions.
    Access a release from AFBF (click here). Access a release from AFBF on its EPA lawsuit (click here). Access a release from Rep. Lucas (click here). Access a release from EPA on the Chesapeake Bay plan and link to complete details (click here).