NCBA keeping a watchful eye out for potential regulatory actions

By Spencer Chase

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SAN DIEGO, Jan. 27, 2016 - As the sun starts to set on two terms for President Barack Obama in the White House, officials with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) say they will be keeping a watchful eye on any potential regulatory actions coming from the executive branch. 

While it is not uncommon for presidents to take a variety of administrative actions on their way out, past Obama administration regulations have rubbed NCBA the wrong way.

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“In the last years of any two-term administration, there's always a lot of regulations that come out, or, in some cases, get repealed,” Kent Bacus, NCBA's associate director of legislative affairs, said in an interview with Agri-Pulse during the group's annual Cattle Industry Convention here. “I don't think that we're going to see a lot of regulations rescinded with this administration.”

“It's important that we stay engaged not only at the grassroots level, but on Capitol Hill and use our friends in Congress to limit the president's ability to implement so many of these things,” Bacus added.

Colin Woodall, NCBA's vice president of government affairs, told Agri-Pulse that the administrative actions could come in many forms, but NCBA is primarily watching for designations of grasslands and wilderness areas as national monuments as well as the potential for enforcement actions from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We don't have anything off hand that we're anticipating, we're just preparing ourselves because we think it's highly likely that something will pop up,” Woodall said. “It's more concern than anything tangible.”

He added that Obama is using the monument designations in a way that “was never the intent of the Antiquities Act” and NCBA is working with members of Congress on potential reform of that legislation. He said addressing use of the Antiquities Act and the Endangered Species Act are two of NCBA's biggest priorities for the year.

Woodall reiterated that there isn't any particular EPA regulation anticipated to come down the pike, but rather the potential for broader enforcement action on existing regulations, similar to the well-known Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

NCBA and many other organizations have been critical of the EPA for pursuing implementation of WOTUS, which would expand the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act by redefining navigable waters. Agricultural interests have expressed concern that the rule would bring more of their land under the federal government's microscope and create more red tape.

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Woodall said a potential silver lining of a lighter congressional schedule during the 2016 election year is that it gives NCBA and other groups more time to be watchful.

“Even though I say that Congress is going to spend a lot of time back home campaigning, that doesn't mean that we're hanging out in Washington D.C. with nothing to do,” Woodall told a group of cattle producers Wednesday in San Diego. “We have to watch these agencies and make sure we're on top of them and figure out ways to try to usurp the President in his activities.”

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