House approves bill to prevent farm dust regulations

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 - The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011, by 268-150. The measure, introduced by Rep. Kristi Noem, R-SD., would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from proposing or enforcing any regulation revising dust standards. Reps. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, Larry Kissell, D-N.C., and Robert Hurt, R-Va. were original co-sponsors.


 “This is a huge win for farmers and ranchers in South Dakota and across the country,” said Noem.  “The regulation of farm dust is not a partisan issue. It is a rural issue. And it's a real issue. My bill received support from Democrats here in the House, and the companion bill in the Senate also has Democratic support. Additionally, over 190 agriculture organizations have written in supporting the bill, including the Cattlemen, Stockgrowers, Wheat Growers, Farm Bureau and many others.”

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“The EPA is still saying they have no plans to further regulate farm dust, and that this issue is a “myth,” but those words are empty promises until we back them up with real action,” Noem said in a statement. “Unless this bill is passed by the Senate and signed into law, there is nothing stopping the EPA Administrator from changing her mind or from being forced to take action as the result of a lawsuit.  That is a simple fact that farmers and ranchers understand.”


The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) applauded the effort.


“Unfortunately, taking EPA's word that farm dust will not be further regulated provides absolutely no relief to those cattle producers already faced with dust regulations. We saw legislation as the only option to give all ranchers across the country any sort of peace of mind,” said NCBA President Bill Donald. “Cattlemen and women worried about being fined for moving cattle, tilling a field or even driving down a dirt road should rest assured knowing that will not be allowed to happen on our watch. The bill provides much-needed certainty for cattlemen.”


But National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said his organization is “disappointed” with the bill's passage, describing it as “meaningless” and “unnecessary.”


“As EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has repeatedly said, both verbally and in writing to members of Congress, the EPA is not proposing to revise farm dust regulations. Despite this assurance, misinformation regarding potential dust regulation continues to spread across the country, creating unnecessary concern for farmers and ranchers. Congress should stop politicizing this issue and move on to passing meaningful legislation to help farmers, ranchers and rural communities,” Johnson said.


Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., who has offered a similar bill in the Senate, described EPA's pledge to not regulate farm dust as “important, but a valid argument has been made that it does not prevent future Administrations from doing so.”


Senator Johanns' legislation would enable EPA to consider the source of particulate matter while prohibiting the agency from regulating farm dust, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Nev.) changed the rules of the Senate in October to prevent the legislation from being offered as an amendment to a bill the Senate was considering. For more information on Senator Johanns' legislation, click here.

However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is unlikely to consider the legislation and the Obama administration has already said it would veto the bill.


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