By Mike Barnett
“To everything there is a season.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
“For many regulations, there is no reason.” Mike
From planting to harvesting and everything in-between, regulations are facts of life in agriculture—as they are for every industry and all Americans.
Not all are bad. Regulations have made for a cleaner and safer environment for all Americans. Our food supply is safer because of regulations. The problem is overkill. Rules tend to proliferate like rabbits.
Wayne Crew’s Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State—a survey of the cost and compliance burden imposed by federal regulations—shows the following:
• The Federal Register stands at an all-time record high of 81,405 pages.
• Agencies issued 3,573 final rules. In contrast, Congress and the president signed 217 bills into law.
• Proposed rules have surged from 2,044 in 2009 to 2,439 in 2010—a jump of nearly 20 percent!
• Of the 4,225 rules now in the regulatory pipeline, 224 are “economically significant.” That means they wield at least $100 million in economic impact.
$100 million here, $100 million there—pretty soon, we’re talking about real money. How real? “T” as in trillion–$1.75 trillion in compliance costs, according to the Small Business Administration.
That’s greater than the record federal deficit—forecast at $1.48 trillion for FY 2011.
The problem is a self-perpetuating bureaucratic tendency to make rules: If one is good, five are better.
EPA’s proposals to regulate dust come to mind.
The free-styling attitude that new regulations don’t cost anyone anything needs to end.
The Golden Rule for regulatory scripture? If cost exceeds the benefit, it’s a bad idea.