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Update on Regulatory Issues

In addition to the drop in corn and soybean values over the past three years, which has contributed to lower expected farm income and reduced rates of growth in the value of farmland, U.S. producers have also expressed concern about the burden of federal regulations.

 Timothy Cama reported at The Hill Online on Wednesday that, “House Republicans used a Wednesday hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget to attack various regulations being pursued by the agency.”

The article noted that, “‘EPA seems intent on locking in a long list of new regulations that will bind future administrations,’ Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said at the hearing of two subcommittees of the panel.”

“EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy defended her rulemaking agenda and the agency’s funding request for fiscal 2016, asking for $8.59 billion, a $452 million increase over what it received in the most recent year,” the article said.

A news release on Wednesday from Rep. Kevin Kramer (R., N.D.) indicated that, “Today, [Rep. Kramer] Congressman questioned EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy about the impact the Waters of the United States rulemaking will have on small businesses in North Dakota and across the United States.

“‘I was deeply disappointed EPA Administrator McCarthy did not think the negative impact the expanded Waters of the United States definition will have on small businesses and small entities in North Dakota and across the country was a big deal. I am committed to ensuring that North Dakotans are not harmed by Washington bureaucrats,’ said Cramer.”

The news update added that, “Congressman Cramer has been a leader in opposing overreach by the EPA and cosponsored The Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 which would prohibit the EPA and the Corps from further developing or administering the proposed rule in any form, and reaffirm the authority of state and local officials to determine how non-jurisdictional waters should be regulated. Bicameral legislation in the new Congress is being developed as the EPA expects to finalize their rule in April.”

Meanwhile, the House Ag Committee will be taking a closer look at the Waters of the U.S. rule in a hearing schedule for next week:

Also, a news update Wednesday from Rep. Frank Lucas (R., Okla.) stated that, “[Rep. Lucas] Congressman Frank and Congressman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) today introduced H.R. 1029, the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2015, legislation to ensure the science guiding EPA’s regulatory policy is objective, independent and available for public review. The bipartisan bill establishes guidelines for membership to the Science Advisory Board, which advises the EPA’s regulatory decisions. Companion legislation was also introduced today in the Senate by Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).”

The release added that, “‘The Science Advisory Board’s work is important to making sure the EPA considers all scientific information when writing regulations that will impact American farmers, families and small businesses. This legislation builds on the work done in the 2014 Farm Bill and is necessary to ensure the EPA takes into account the best information possible, with input from the public and independent stakeholders. A balanced and independent Science Advisory Board will help alleviate some of the unintended consequences surrounding EPA regulations,’ said Congressman Peterson.”

Meanwhile, AP writer Emery P. Dalesio reported on Wednesday that, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will investigate whether North Carolina’s environmental agency lightly regulated the state’s industrial hog operations because their neighbors are minorities.

“The Waterkeeper Alliance and other groups released an EPA letter Wednesday stating the federal agency will launch a civil rights investigation of North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The groups had asked the EPA last fall to investigate whether DENR would have been tougher on 2,000 North Carolina swine operations raising 10 million hogs if the neighbors were not black, Hispanic or Native American.”