Texas Farm Bureau: EPA dust regulations in Texas agriculture

By Gene Hall

In one of my favorite songs, Lee Greenwood sings of his heart “drifting down a dusty Dixie road.”  I’ve been down many of those roads. In fact, dust is an inescapable part of rural life.  I grew up at the end of one of those dusty roads.  When we worked cattle, we raised some dust. Same for when we baled hay. In other agricultural pursuits, of which I don’t have direct experience, dust is part of the deal.

It’s not so much that the EPA is considering regulation of dust in agriculture.  Is anyone surprised at that? We have this great juggernaut of a regulatory apparatus, built to regulate, lavishly funded for that purpose and absolutely itching to get at it. What bothers me is that they might be thinking they can actually make this work!

The eight years of the Bush administration were little more than a speed bump for federal regulators. Now, with an administration much more friendly to the idea, they are unfettered. Make no mistake, EPA intends to regulate, and they will do so with little regard to cost, benefit or consequences. Think of the Cap and Trade bill stalled in Congress.  No problem. The unelected folks at EPA will do it by regulatory fiat. There is a feeling in farm and ranch circles that an aggressive and unchecked EPA has set out to make U.S. agriculture obsolete. This point of view is not without evidence.

Back to the “dust-up” – also not much of a surprise is the unified opposition among agricultural groups and from farm state members of Congress.  They know something the regulators apparently don’t.  It’s not possible to grow a crop – animal, vegetable, grain or cotton, without kicking up a little dust.  It’s not that farmers and ranchers have not taken steps to minimize dust in their operations.  Many dollars have been spent in the form of minimum till farming practices and dust management systems of various kinds.

A letter signed by 21 U.S. Senators, including John Cornyn of Texas, says in part:

“We respect efforts for a clean and healthy environment, but not at the expense of common sense. These identified levels will be extremely burdensome for farmers and livestock producers to attain. Whether its livestock kicking up dust, soybeans being combined on a dry day in the fall, or driving a car down the gravel road, dust is a naturally occurring event.”

The senators also correctly noted that producers could potentially be fined for not meeting the standards while still implementing good management practices on their soils.  Will farmers soon need a federal permit to plow?

The full text of the senators’ letter can be found here

If this effort is “successful,” EPA can move on to regulating hurricanes, tornados, flash floods and tilting at windmills. Draconian regulatory efforts to stifle the dust that’s been part of rural America since colonial times could eventually result in the offshore production of our supply of food and fiber. It will be grown in places where the citizens and their governments have not lost track of common sense.

Visit the Texas Farm Bureau website at www.txfb.org.
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Gene Hall

Public Relations Director
Texas Farm Bureau
I believe that the only hope for a food secure world is capitalism and reasonable profits for America’s farm and ranch families–that the first element of sustainability is economic survival.
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3 Responses to “EPA Dust-Up: To exist is to regulate”

  1. Dan Dierschke says:

    Another expression of the elite thinking they know best how every aspect of our lives is to be determined. I repeat a previously expressed thought: how do these elities think their food and fiber will be produced? Do they care? Do they ever leave their insulated little worlds and learn how the real world operates and exist? So they are willing to accept their necessary products being produced offshore but how long will it be until attempts are made to impose the same regulations on others by refusing to buy products from countries that do not follow the same required practices?

    A most frightening aspect of this power grab is that it is taking place independent of any legislative authorization. Hundreds of regulations imposed by regulatory fiat will result in ultimate control of our livehoods by people we have not elected and have no control over.

    Thanks for highlighting these governmental efforts. As agricultural producers we can protect ourselves only through knowledge of what is being planned and working with our legislators in attempts to preserve some rationality.

  2. Steve Pringle says:

    I would argue that most farmers don’t want to create any more environemntal damage than absolutely necessary. After all they live on the farms they operate. I am more concerned with government regulations run amok. If and when the Congress passes a law, the public and producers in General should be required to follow it. I simply don’t see any Congressional intent in the current regulations. Administrations will come and go, and we simply can’t have one set of interpretations at one time, then another later.

    It is really critical that the Congress begin to address some of the REAL issues confronted by everyday citizens, including immigration. It is a legitimate argument as to whether we wish to regulate dust particles, even more than already done, during a recession.

  3. Over the weekend, I approved a post from a person, posting anonymously who used a racial slur sometimes associated with illegal aliens. I thought I would use his own words against him. My writing parter, Mike, argued that post should not have been allowed. Mike is right, I was wrong. That person lost the argument on this blog entry some time ago, but his outrageous charges and the use of that slur have gotten him banned from this site. All his entries and responses to them have been deleted and his responses will no longer be posted on the spaces we control. We frown on anonymous posts and we won’t tolerate any language of the kind that was used. My apologies.

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