The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received a clear signal today, Dec. 8, 2011, from the U.S. House of Representatives that placing burdensome and scientifically unfounded regulations on U.S. farmers and ranchers is unacceptable. In a bipartisan showing, the House voted 268-150 in favor of Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s (R-S.D) Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011(H.R. 1633). National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Bill Donald calls today’s vote a win for regulatory certainty for cattlemen and women.
“Unfortunately, taking EPA’s word that farm dust will not be further regulated provides absolutely no relief to those cattle producers already faced with dust regulations. We saw legislation as the only option to give all ranchers across the country any sort of peace of mind,” said Donald, who is a rancher from Melville, Mont. “Cattlemen and women worried about being fined for moving cattle, tilling a field or even driving down a dirt road should rest assured knowing that will not be allowed to happen on our watch. The bill provides much-needed certainty for cattlemen.”
Donald said the fact EPA was even considering regulating dust at levels that would push much of the country into non-compliance was reason enough to move forward with H.R. 1633. NCBA Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley Lyon said the legislation recognizes that dust from agricultural activities has never been shown to have an adverse health impact at ambient levels. H.R. 1633 first gives states and localities the authority in regulating dust by preventing the federal standard from applying where states or localities already have dust measures in place. In places where there is no state or local control, the bill also would exempt farm dust from the Clean Air Act unless the EPA administrator can prove it is a significant health problem and that applying the standard is worth the costs.
Donald said it is because of commonsense policymakers like Congresswoman Noem and the original cosponsors Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) and Robert Hurt (R-Va.). He said agriculture rallied behind this bipartisan legislation. Specifically, NCBA orchestrated a letter signed by 194 agricultural organizations that was sent to every member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Donald said NCBA wanted to be clear that this legislation was supported across the board by all of agriculture.
“What we have found is when we need a solution to a problem; we simply find a bigger hammer. Rallying together and working directly with members of Congress allowed us to swing a bigger hammer and score a victory for the entire industry today but our efforts cannot stop now,” said Donald. “The Senate will be a challenge. However, we are confident if agriculture continues to work together, we can expect this legislation to end up on the president’s desk.”
The legislation now moves to the Senate, where it was introduced by Senators Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and has support from 26 bipartisan senators.