Out here in the hinterlands of the Midwest, we sometimes hear of the horror stories of what government agencies and environmental groups want to do to or with agriculture, but it often seems as a far-off threat to someone else. The only exception might be the stink raised by PETA and the Humane Society of the United States against large livestock production agencies.
Gary Baise lives with these irrational threats and proposals day in and day out. He's an attorney with OFW law, and he recently addressed crop and livestock farmers about some of the frightening scenarios that are playing out not too far behind the scenes.
For example, someone joked at a meeting that they head the government wanted to regulate dust in agriculture- how could that be- farming is about working the soil and creating dust. And this person who thought it was a joke wasn't even a farmer.
Yet Base says it's no joke. The Environmental Protection Agency began developing very technical, very stringent standards for the amount of dust that could be emitted into the environment by farm operations. They were forced to back down for the time being, but Baise truly believes that if this administration in Washington at this time gets its way, EPA will push the effort to regulate dust on farms again.
There's already been a court case where an appeals court ruled in EPA's favor in a lawsuit related to dust issue in agriculture.
Baise truly caught the attention of the audience when he noted that in some of the matters EPA regulates besides dust, the issue is already brewing that there might be criminal charges, not just civil penalties, brought against people that EPA claim violate certain laws. Some of the cases so far relate to spraying atrazine or to spray drift issues.
Follow best management practices, document them, and whatever you do, don't spray into a creek or any body of water, Baise insists. That's one action that brings EPA to your farm very quickly. And don't assume your neighbor is your friend. Sometimes a neighbor is the very person who makes the call that brings these agencies out to the farm.Unless farmers want to have to comply with ridiculous rules, Baise says they need to concentrate on doing things right now. For example, would you like to be forced to give EPA 72 hours' notice before you spray certain chemicals in certain areas? It may sound like nonsense to you, but he insists it sounds reasonable to some EPA personnel.