The Rural America Solutions Group held a forum recently in Washington, D.C., to discuss arange of Environmental Protection Agency proposals and related legislation. Panelists commented on how these EPA regulations are affecting the livelihoods of farmers, ranchers and small businesses throughout rural America.
Gerald Simonsen, National Sorghum Producers board chairman and sorghum farmer from Ruskin, Neb., expressed concern over many areas of overreaching EPA regulation. He emphasized that although science-based regulation is important, Washington today has little regard for farmers, the best stewards of the land, and is causing economic pain to America’s heartland.
“In less than two years, Washington regulators at the EPA and other agencies have opened up, sped up, or tightened up regulatory reviews and restrictions, concerning everything from Clean Water Act requirements for pesticide applications, to greenhouse gases, to plain old dust on America’s farms,” said Simonsen.
EPA’s impact on rural America was described by Simonsen as burdensome red tape that specifically includes an absurd decision to institute an irregular and unprecedented re-review of atrazine this year despite overwhelming weight of scientific opinion testifying to its safety.
“The treatment of atrazine is the most bizarre move of them all,” Simonsen said, “one that seems to have little to do with science, and a lot to do with activist politics.”
Additionally, anti-pesticide litigation is pushing EPA to consider zero-drift policies, to which Simonsen expressed simply cannot be done.
“Speaking for the farmer, I can tell you that this opens the door to frivolous lawsuits and enforcement actions against farmers and other applicators,” said Simonsen. “And, the catch is, it results in little or no measurable environmental benefit.”