Rep. Frank Lucas: American agriculture is under attack

Frank Lucas speaks on the impact of regulation on agriculture. From the office of Rep. Frank Lucas:

Floor Statement of The Honorable Frank D. Lucas
House Resolution 72, Review of Federal Regulations
and Their Impact on Agriculture and Rural Economies
February 11, 2011

As prepared for delivery

Mr. Chairman,
Today I rise in support of H.RES. 72.

American agriculture is under attack. Every day the administration seems to demonstrate just how vastly disconnected it is from the folks who feed us. The administration fails to realize that rural America’s economy is dependant on agriculture. The in-your-face-approach that the administration has taken regarding government regulation has increased the cost of doing business for America’s farmers and ranchers. If the administration is allowed to continue down this path, the only choice for many farmers and ranchers will be to stop farming altogether.

From the dairies in Vermont, to the wheat fields near the Chesapeake Bay, to the corn farms in the Midwest, American agriculture is under a constant barrage of irrational and unworkable regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, which are burdensome, overreaching, and that negatively affect jobs and rural economies.

This EPA is mostly interested in pursuing the extreme agenda of environmental groups without any consideration for the impact it will have on our farmers and ranchers. For example:

• The EPA wants to treat milk spills like oil spills simply because milk contains animal fat. EPA has suggested that milk storage be regulated under the Clean Water Act as large oil tanks;

• The EPA wants farmers to till fields without producing any dust. Clearly, the folks at EPA have never stepped foot on a farm in western Oklahoma or otherwise they would know that dust happens and all the regulations in the world can’t eliminate its existence;

• The EPA wants farmers to ensure that none of the spray they use for pests drifts even one foot away from the original source;

• The EPA has started an unprecedented, RE-RE-evaluation of the popular weed control product atrazine. In 2006, the EPA completed a 12-year review involving 6,000 studies and 80,000 public comments, yet one of the first orders of business for the Obama administration was to start all over after an article appeared in The New York Times;

• The EPA is trying to regulate watersheds based off of inaccurate data and flawed models — a problem recognized even by top officials at USDA.

The list goes on and on. But what further illustrates the alarming frame of mind of the EPA is that the agency has gone so far as to recently hold a contest for the public to create videos explaining why federal regulations are “important to everyone.”

In many instances, the agency is overreaching its authority. Instead of operating within the law, EPA believes it can order Congress to pass legislation that gives it more authority and threaten to regulate anyway if Congress chooses not to act.

The message from the President is clear: Pass a cap and tax bill or we will pursue an endangerment finding. Pass more authority to regulate watersheds or we will proceed with an executive order.
Sadly for America’s farmers and ranchers these regulations are not limited to the EPA. The Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Agency’s proposed rule on purported “fairness” far exceeds Congressional intent expressed in the 2008 Farm Bill. It lacks a credible economic analysis and has so far been the result of a regulatory process that only can be described as flawed. We have a responsibility to producers, packers, processors, retailers, and consumers to continue to examine this proposal’s implications and act accordingly.

In addition, over the past several months, the CFTC and other federal financial regulators have been engaged in writing unprecedented new regulations over the derivatives markets. As Chairman Gensler pointed out in our Committee yesterday, since September alone, the CFTC has issued 39 new rule proposals involving thousands of pages of regulation. By comparison, before Dodd-Frank, the CFTC averaged only about five rules per year.

The speed with which the CFTC is issuing new rules precludes their ability to conduct adequate cost-benefit analysis to ensure the rules do not impose unnecessary or undue regulations on our financial system and our economy.

And unlike many other provisions of Dodd-Frank, Title VII is not limited to financial firms. In fact, it has the potential to impact every segment of our economy, from farmers and ranchers, to manufacturers and energy companies, to the fields of health care and technology.

Yet many of the rules the CFTC has proposed would substantially increase the costs of hedging for commercial end-users – extending Wall Street regulation to Main Street companies. As we work to revive the economy and create new jobs, we simply can’t afford sweeping new regulations that are poorly vetted, that impose substantial costs that outweigh the benefits for our financial system and our economy, or that are crafted in the interest of speed rather than in sound policy.

The Agriculture Committee has set forth an aggressive oversight plan that will shine a bright light on these regulations and show the real world consequences of them. I hope the administration will work with us in our efforts. Our nation’s farmers, ranchers and small business owners are counting on it.