A House Agriculture subcommittee held a hearing Wednesday on EPA regulations that many say threaten agriculture. Pennsylvania Farm Bureau president Carl Shaffer represented the American Farm Bureau Federation before the panel. Shaffer said that nowhere is the impact of EPA activity more obvious than in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, where EPA's recently finalized Total Maximum Daily Load guidelines could push hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland out of production.
EPA projects that roughly 20% of cropped land in the watershed, or about 600,000 acres, will have to be removed from production and be converted to grassland or forest in order to achieve the required loading reductions. Shaffer said EPA's over-reaching focus on agriculture is particularly troublesome because agriculture has worked successfully with the USDA to reduce its environmental impact on the Chesapeake Bay. A recent report confirmed improvements.
"In the last two years, EPA has set in motion a significant number of new regulations that will fundamentally alter the face of agriculture, not just in the bay, but nationwide," Shaffer said. "These new regulations will determine how farmers raise crops and livestock and will increase the likelihood of expensive lawsuits filed by activist organizations."
Shaffer warned that policies already in place or being considered by EPA will greatly extend federal control over crop farmers and livestock producers, regardless of their size or footprint.