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AFBF Submits Regulatory Reform Priorities

Washington—The Farm Bureau submitted regulatory reform priorities this week to the Department of Agriculture.

The American Farm Bureau Federation used comments from Farm Bureau members to submit suggestions for regulatory reform to USDA as part of the agency’s efforts to implement the president’s regulatory reform agenda. Paul Schlegel the AFBF’s Director of Environment and Energy Policy says overregulation by federal agencies is burdensome to agriculture.

“It’s hard to look at it nationally and say there’s X amount of dollars,” said Schlegel. “ But it’s significant. It runs from environment to natural resources to labor to endangered species, there’s a whole range of things. And, it is widespread and it takes place everywhere.”

Schlegel says regulatory creep has chipped away at the exemptions for normal farming practices under the Clean Water Rule.

“How an agency would determine what is normal can affect whether you’re exempt or not,” said Schlegel. “So, if you’re changing from one crop to another, an agency might say that they don’t consider that normal. Those things have the effect of making farmers subject to regulations whereas Congress has said they shouldn’t be.”

The Department of Agriculture will continue to accept comments over the next year. Schlegel says this is a good opportunity to ease the overregulation burden on farmers and ranchers.

“Unfortunately, it’s a long list of challenges, but we’re grateful for the opportunity we have. On Capitol Hill, there’s legislation we’re pushing and the arena downtown at EPA, at USDA, Department of Interior, we’re trying to get them to focus on things and make some changes,” said Schlegel.