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Experts React To Environmental Questions From Farmers

Experts React To Environmental Questions From Farmers
There's no doubt regulation and attention to environmental matters will be part of farming in the future.

If you think there are too many regulations on agriculture now, just wait. Nobody is brave enough to say 'you haven't seen anything yet' in front of us, at least, but reaching that conclusion is not a far leap based on what experts say about the potential for future regulation.

People in Washington who have never stepped foot on a farm will be deciding some of the regulations related to water quality and other issues that you will live with for a long time. Based on questions asked of a panel of experts on environmental issues at the Indiana Livestock Forum recently, many farmers understand that there is a danger of being regulated beyond what they can handle.

One farmer asked Gary Baise, of OFW law firm, who deals with cutting edge environmental vs. agricultural law issues on the national level, about a potential water trading program. "This might be a positive if farmers were paid to hold water on their land until sediment and nutrients settled out," he responded. It's likely easier to pay for holding it than cleaning it up later."

Someone asked Frank Mitloehner, an associate professor and air quality specialist in Extension at the University of California of Davis, about bad actors in agriculture. The professor, working in California, finds himself in the middle of environmental regulation and squabbles on a routine basis.

"There's no question that if there are bad actors in agriculture, they must be dealt with," he says. "Self-policing is the first step for any industry. Then if there are still bad actors and the industry doesn't clean it up, the regulators will come in."

Baise chimes in. "If there are so –called bad actors out there who are negligent, yes, they should be dealt with. However, these shouldn't be criminal offenses. "
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