ISA Responds to Increasing Crop Farming Regulation
In 2011, the Iowa Soybean Association responded to nine proposed regulations having the potential to seriously impact Iowa’s crop farmers. Those regulations, ranging from federal EPA environmental rules to state changes in deer licensing, illustrate the increasing regulatory pressure on landowners and farmers.
In 2010, the ISA board developed an objective encouraging staff and leaders to monitor and respond to “unnecessary” agricultural regulations. ISA has responded with comments on proposed regulations for many years, but a deluge of regulatory proposals in the past year has kept our comment writers busy.
EPA proposed several new regulations, including a rule to require a permit for applying pesticides over any body of water, regulations on dust, restrictions on the herbicide atrazine, lowering the standard for dioxin in food (with the potential to label most U.S. meat and milk products “adulterated”) and increasing the push for NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permits for livestock confinements that do not discharge. The Department of Labor proposed new youth labor requirements that could restrict rural youth from working and driving equipment on farms. Iowa DNR proposed limiting the number of deer licenses in several northeast and southeast Iowa counties. Environmental groups pushed to keep farmland in the flooded Missouri River basin from being restored to farmable/insurable assets. LightSquared purchased bandwidth adjacent to agricultural GPS signals, possibly rendering the significant investments Iowa farmers and ag companies have made in global positioning worthless.
In each case, ISA leaders and staff responded with written comments, calls to federal and state lawmakers and informational meetings with state and federal officials. While most of the regulations are still pending, we have found common ground with many other agricultural groups and industries that see these regulations encroaching on their ability to do business. In certain cases, we have seen movement away from regulations.
EPA has responded that they have no intention of regulating agricultural dust. The Department of Labor and USDA have reassured farmers that youth worker regulations will not impact children helping their parents on family farms. There has been movement away from requiring non-discharging farms to obtain an NPDES permit. And the Corps of Engineers and environmental groups have conceded that the primary goal of the reservoir system on the Missouri River should be for flood control rather than recreation and endangered species.
But many problems remain. Most farmers continue to be wary of agency assurances that farmers and landowners will not be harmed by these increasing regulations. ISA’s has made monitoring and responding to these “unnecessary” regulations a priority.
Soybean farmers with concerns about new regulations that impact their farming operation “unnecessarily” are encouraged to call the Iowa Soybean Association office. ISA staff and leaders are prepared to represent farmers’ interests in these discussions.