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Cuba, cap-and-trade, EPA and atrazine

Trade with Cuba, cap-and-trade legislation and controversial EPA proposals were among hot-button issues addressed by politicians during CropLife America’s July National Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.

(For a member list of CropLife America, a crop protection industry organization, see

During her remarks, Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, repeatedly called for farmers to have “certainty” and “predictability.”

“To me one of the most important things we can do for American production agriculture — and, quite frankly, as government, for any industry out there — is to create an environment of certainty.”

In the current economical environment, “job creation is critical. And for industries and businesses to create jobs, they must have some kind of predictability of the environment that government is going to present them.

“Certainty is critical for farm policy, as well, certainty in risk management, and certainty in trade policy, which is essential. The president commented several months ago that one of the most important ways we can create jobs in this country is to increase exports. I think that’s absolutely accurate.”

Lincoln called for “certainty in regulatory policy … and certainty in tax policy.” Over the last two months, “I feel I’ve bled tax extenders … on everything from biofuels to timber to research and development.”

To revitalize the American economy and “create economic opportunity and jobs, Washington will have to provide greater certainty. I look forward to helping provide that certainty for American production agriculture for many years to come.”

Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte — currently vice ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee and former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee — broached other concerns. Writing the 2012 farm bill will “include combating legislative proposals before the Congress that are anti-agriculture and oversight of the overreaching EPA. We’ve repeatedly seen legislative policies come before the Congress that will devastate the agriculture committee and ways of life in rural America.”

This is “epitomized,” said Goodlatte by the “nefarious” cap-and-trade bill passed by the House in 2009. The legislation is “really a cap-and-tax proposal, an $846 billion national energy tax that will hit every American. A cap-and-trade system will place the U.S. economy at a distinct competitive disadvantage because it would place significant additional costs on every American business, farmer, manufacturer, and family. We must keep in mind that agriculture is an energy-intensive industry and this legislation will make the cost of energy even higher.”

Policymakers “cannot ignore that the American economy is intrinsically linked to the availability and affordability of energy,” said Goodlatte.

Lincoln said government overregulation “kills jobs, hurts our economy and puts us behind the 8-ball in global competition. That’s why I’ve co-sponsored a bill that stops the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

“That’s why I’ve opposed cap-and-trade proposals that pick winners and losers. I don’t believe that’s our job. I believe our job is to open the table and invite everyone to come and help solve the problem.”

Lincoln has also intervened in a court case “to stop EPA from requiring farmers and ranchers to get permits for pesticide application. There’s sufficient regulation under the current law in FIFRA. That’s why I’ve opposed efforts to expand the Clean Water Act to every pothole on every farm or ranch in the country. It isn’t implementable (and) not practical.”

Goodlatte expressed great irritation with the EPA over its approach to atrazine. The agency seems to come out daily “with a new regulation that makes it harder for producers to make a living. In 2006, after completing a 12-year review of the herbicide atrazine, the EPA ruled it presents no threat to human health or the environment.”

However, in 2009, “the EPA announced it would initiate an unprecedented reevaluation of atrazine. Atrazine is the second-most common herbicide in the United States and is a vital tool for our producers.”

The atrazine reevaluation “is just another assault on our nation’s farmers,” said Goodlatte. “EPA’s assault of production agriculture is further demonstrated by their proposed ‘zero tolerance spray drift’ rule. This would mandate a zero drift standard for farmers who use pesticides to protect their crops.”

Such a standard is “unachievable and could lead to decreases in farm productivity and excessive litigation against growers.

Lincoln also called for opening trade with Cuba.

“It’s a no-brainer. We’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of our self-imposed ban on trade with Cuba. The only people suffering from that are the Cuban people and American farmers.”

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