By Rick Jordahl, Associate Editor, Pork Magazine
The Environmental Protection Agency is waging an unprecedented battle to end U.S. farming as we know it. Wielding regulation like a scythe, on the books or proposed, EPA is trying single-handed to make farming obsolete.
The EPA's proposal to reduce the allowed amount of particulate matter (commonly known as 'dust' outside the Washington beltway) is blowing up a controversy in farming states.
The EPA Draft Policy Assessment released last month would set the most stringent regulation of dust in U.S. history. The latest proposal would reduce the acceptable amount of dust to a level twice as stringent as the current standard, which, for agriculture, is already very difficult to attain.
The EPA proposal has created a flurry of protests from farmers as well as 21 U.S. senators who say the proposed standard would be "extremely burdensome" for farmers and livestock producers. In an appeal for common sense, the senators sent a letter to Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator.
Farmers not complying with the proposed stringent regulations could be fined. U.S Senator Mike Johanns, (R-Neb.), warns that the new EPA standards would be devastating for Nebraska agriculture.
Is common sense now extinct at EPA? "Why do they do these wacky things and then claim that we are the ones being alarmists?, Johanns said. “They are a federal department that just is out of control."
It does not require a meteorology expert to know that in times of lower rainfall and increased winds, more dust is often produced. Will EPA take weather conditions and local rainfall amounts into consideration before slapping fines on farmers?
According to Kris Lancaster, EPA official, Region 7, "EPA does not have any plans to focus on regulating dust from farm fields or gravel roads." If that were true, why put agricultural regulations in the proposed assessment policy, Johanns asks.
We would all be happy to live our lives going barefooted on dew-covered grass smelling roses and lilac whenever we are outdoors. But we must live in a practical world - at least those of us who live outside of Washington, D.C. To feed millions of Americans and many others throughout the world, U.S. farmers cannot live in a dream.
Why does the EPA insist on making farming next to impossible? It is as if the EPA, with its growing burdensome regulation, is saying, "Just try to raise food for us. We'll fine you!"
The Weather Channel recently aired a special program on the infamous Dust Bowl that ravaged the Plains states during the 1930's. Photographs and film footage documented the clouds of wind-blown dust towering thousands of feet high. Some who experienced the horror thought it was the end of the world.
Such an event would cause considerable consternation among EPA officials. Certainly it would warrant EPA's biggest fine ever. But, who would they fine?
The next thing EPA will demand is that farmers pave all gravel roads in U.S. rural settings. Or maybe not pave, after all, that would require petroleum products and fuel to operate machinery. No, maybe all rural roads should be re-surfaced with brick and stone, laid in place by human labor alone. Yes. Perfect.
Better yet, EPA should simply mandate that people really don't need to eat anymore. This way, farmers won't have to till that pesky soil, the source of all that dust which is suddenly, after 200+ years of American agriculture, going to get us all.