National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says his organization is pleased Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson has provided final clarification for members of Congress and the agriculture community that the agency does not have a plan to regulate farm dust. Johnson says there has been considerable anxiety within the farming community. He says he hopes this action finally puts to rest the misinformation regarding dust regulation and eases the minds of farmers and ranchers across the country.
"We raised this issue of farm dust earlier in the year with the EPA Administrator and the Secretary of Agriculture," said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. "I'm glad they listened to the serious concerns raised by the agriculture community about possible dust regulations."
Meanwhile, Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a member of the Senate Ag Committee, points out that dust is a fact of life in rural America, and imposing new dust regulations on farmers and rural communities would stifle the agriculture industry and hurt rural economies.
"Under the authority of the Clean Air Act, EPA was developing plans to increase regulation on what it calls "particulate matter" – particles in the air that may be harmful to us and our environment," said Senator Mike Johanns, R-Neb., and former Secretary of Agriculture. "It was nonsensical to include farm dust in this category. The announcement provides clarity to ambiguous and sometimes conflicting comments previously made by the agency."
Also welcoming the news were the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the Public Lands Council.
According to Bill Donald, NCBA president and Montana rancher, the consequences of EPA regulating farm dust at levels twice as stringent as the current standard would have undoubtedly forced many farmers and ranchers into nonattainment, which would have resulted in enormous fines and would have jeopardized the future of many farms and ranches. But Donald says the issue is far from being resolved.
Donald says the fact that family farmers and ranchers are subject to a federal dust standard in the first place is unreasonable. The organizations continue to support the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, proposed by Senator Johanns and Representative Kristi Noem, R-S.D. This legislation would essentially exempt farmers and ranchers from the federal regulation of dust as long as it is regulated at the state or local levels of government.