Archive for the ‘Regulatory’ Category

Governor Appoints 5 to Ag Commission

Six Colorado residents have been appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper to the State Agricultural Commission.

Thomas K. Cameron, Palisade, (Democrat), to serve from the Fourth agricultural district; Ernest D. Ford, Center, (Democrat), to serve from the Third agricultural district; Barbara L. Marty, Henderson, (Republican), to serve from the First agricultural district; John W. Singletary, Pueblo, (Democrat), to serve as an at-large member; and Alvin Kunugi, Blanca, (Democrat), to serve as an at-large member.

The commission formulates policy for the Colorado Department of Agriculture and advises the governor and state legislature on agricultural issues.

AFBF Urges House Members to Co-Sponsor NPDES Permit Bill

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman wrote to members of the House today urging them to support passage of H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011, and sign on as co-sponsors.

“In addition to agricultural producers, a significant number of stakeholders will be impacted by a new federal requirement under which the Environmental Protection Agency and delegated states must issue Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System general permits for certain pesticide applications,” Stallman told lawmakers in his letter. “This unprecedented action is the result of a 2009 decision of the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.”

Stallman called on Congress to take action before the permit requirement becomes final.

“We are concerned that due to unrealistic deadlines for state-delegated implementation and compliance many states will not meet the court ordered deadline of April 9, 2011,” Stallman wrote. “Adding to the uncertainty, EPA has yet to release a final permit. This leaves pesticide users without time to fully understand or come into compliance with the permit and further increases their potential liability.”

Governor Hickenlooper Launches Colorado’s Bottom-Up Economic Development

Join the conversation!

The Governor’s Office and the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade has partnered with Colorado State University’s Office of Engagement and Extension to engage Coloradoans in a statewide conversation about Economic Development.

Governor Hickenlooper is asking for residents across the State, county by county, to share their stories, challenges, and strengths by developing a strategic economic development plan for their county. These county plans will then be rolled up into 14 regional economic development plans, which collectively will be rolled up into a statewide economic development plan.

You are invited to actively participate in your county’s economic development planning processes. Provide input and ideas and ask friends, family, neighbors and others to participate as well. Attend planning meetings, take the online survey at www.advancecolorado.com or send an email at input@state.co.us

Also, please take advantage of an online economic development survey to help communicate your ideas about how to revitalize your local economy.  http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/462074/County-Economic-Development-Self-Assessment-Survey

The results from the state’s on-line survey will be compiled by county and provided to each county. In support of the bottom-up approach, each county will determine its use and the relevance of such information.

 

 

Committee to Hold Oversight Hearing on Interior Department

Today I received the following notice, located below, from the House Natural Resources Committee. This issue is one of great inportance to CFB members because this order basically decalres Congress null and void when determining what is wilderness.

Continue reading

Proposed Rule Would Let Forest Service ‘Go Local’

The Obama Administration last week proposed a new rule that would give local national forest directors more control over their natural resources. The proposed rule overturns a decades-old policy that leaves forest management decisions to officials in Washington.

The planning rule would allow forest managers additional control over the development of Forest Service land management plans. The proposed change is made with an eye to increasing forest and watershed restoration and resilience, habitat protection, sustainable recreation, and management for multiple uses of the National Forest System, including timber.

“The proposed rule will provide the tools to the Forest Service to make our forests more resilient to many threats, including pests, catastrophic fire and climate change. Healthy forests and economically strong rural communities form a solid foundation as we work to win the future for the next generation,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Continue reading

EPA GHG Regulations Brings ‘Double Economic Jolt’ to Ag

America’s farmers and ranchers will receive a “double economic jolt” from the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gases, the American Farm Bureau Federation told a House subcommittee today.

Philip Nelson, president of the Illinois Farm Bureau, testified on behalf of AFBF before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power.

“First, any costs incurred by utilities, refiners, manufacturers and other large emitters to comply with GHG regulatory requirements will be passed on to the consumers of those products, including farmers and ranchers,” Nelson explained. “As a result, our nation’s farmers and ranchers will have higher input costs, namely fuel and energy costs, to grow food, fiber and fuel for our nation and the world.

Continue reading

USDA Announces Partial Deregulation of Biotech Sugar Beets

The Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced Friday it will partially deregulate biotech sugar beets. The decision means farmers can resume plantings of sugar beets that had been barred by a federal judge.

“After conducting an environmental assessment, accepting and reviewing public comments and conducting a plant pest risk assessment, APHIS has determined that the Roundup Ready sugar beet root crop, when grown under APHIS-imposed conditions, can be partially deregulated without posing a plant pest risk or having a significant effect on the environment,” said Michael Gregoire, deputy administrator for APHIS’ biotechnology regulatory services.

More than half of the nation’s granulated sugar has in recent years come from Roundup Ready beets. The other half comes from sugar cane.

Sugar beet growers welcomed the decision.

“The decision is a win for consumers,” said Duane Grant, a beet farmer in Rupert, Idaho, and chairman of the farmer-owned Snake River Sugar Company. “It assures a full beet crop will be planted in 2011.”

AFBF Backs Barrasso Bill Blocking EPA GHG Regulations

The American Farm Federation supports the Defending America’s Affordable Energy and Jobs Act, legislation introduced by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) that would pre-empt the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating stationary sources of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

AFBF President Bob Stallman wrote to Barrasso on Wednesday pledging Farm Bureau’s support of the bill. Stallman told Barrasso the regulations proposed by EPA would have serious consequences for agriculture.

According to EPA estimates, more than 37,000 farming operations (90 percent of livestock production) would be affected by the proposal, at an average cost of $23,200 per permit. Overall, this would cost the agriculture sector more than $866 million.

“In addition to these direct costs, farmers and ranchers will also feel indirect economic impacts. Costs incurred by utilities, refiners and manufacturers to comply with GHG regulations will be passed on to farmers, ranchers and other consumers in the form of higher fuel, fertilizer and energy costs,” according to Stallman.

USDA Announces Deregulation of Biotech Alfalfa

The Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on Thursday announced its decision to grant non-regulated status for alfalfa that has been genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide commercially known as Roundup.

“After conducting a thorough and transparent examination of alfalfa through a multi-alternative environmental impact statement and several public comment opportunities, APHIS has determined that Roundup Ready alfalfa is as safe as traditionally bred alfalfa,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “All of the alfalfa production stakeholders involved in this issue have stressed their willingness to work together to find solutions. We greatly appreciate and value the work they’ve done so far and will continue to provide support to the wide variety of sectors that make American agriculture successful.”

After releasing a final environmental impact statement in December 2010, USDA took another step to ensure that this issue received the broadest examination before making its final decision. USDA brought together a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss feasible strategies for coexistence between genetically engineered, organic and other stakeholders. The stakeholders helped to identify areas of consensus; issues where the group disagreed and opportunities for further dialogue; and areas where USDA could—or should—play an important and helpful role.

Farm Bureau is pleased with the announcement, as it clears up uncertainty for producers and allows them to move forward with planting decisions.

Ag blogger Emily Zweber explains in this post, what the deregulation means for her family farm.

(Image: Pro-Soil Ag Solutions)

EPA Approves E-15 Waiver for 2001-2006 Vehicles

On Friday, EPA extended the waiver for the general use of gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol (E-15) to model years 2001-2006 cars and light trucks. EPA reached its decision after reviewing the results of tests of E-15 on 2001-2006 engines conducted by the Department of Energy.

EPA announced that it will not grant a waiver for the use of E-15 in any motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles or non-road engines this year. The agency stated that that there is no testing data to support such a waiver.

AFBF policy supports increasing the ethanol blending standard to a level higher than 10 percent.

Sweeping Lawsuit Filed Against EPA Could Hurt Farmers

Environmental groups are seeking protection of the Arroyo Toad and other endangered species from EPA approved ag chemicals.

Two environmental groups, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Pesticide Action Network North America, have sued the Environmental Protection Agency, challenging the agency’s overall ag chemical regulatory program.

According to the suit, EPA did not consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service regarding the effects of EPA-registered pesticides on endangered species. The groups claim in a 400-page complaint that EPA is in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The groups are asking EPA to retroactively consult FWS and re-write current regulations, after putting restrictions on ag chemicals.

Virtually every ag chemical in use today is listed in the suit, which seeks protection for 214 endangered and threatened species throughout the U.S. including the Florida panther, California condor, piping plover, black-footed ferret, arroyo toad, Indiana bat, bonytail chub and Alabama sturgeon.

AFBF, Industry Groups Welcome President’s Regulatory Reform

President Obama took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal this week to announce an executive order that would impose on federal agencies the requirement to “ensure that regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth.”

The order requires a government-wide review of current rules and will require eliminating those rules that “stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive.” The order would eliminate rules that overlap and conflict with eachother and the president points to last month’s  deregulation of saccharin by the EPA as an example. He also notes that the order will require agencies to give consumers and industries a larger voice in the rulemaking process.

The order marks a sharp reversal from the policies of the last four years and as the WSJ Editorial Board notes, “If he means it, this will be one of the great policy walkbacks in American history.”

For agriculture, the order could mean a reduction in the crushing weight that the EPA and other regulators have put, or plan to put on the industry.

Continue reading

Farm Bureau, U.S. Chamber, New Congress Leave EPA with No Friends

With the start of a new congress and with policy action from AFBF and other organizations, the EPA will have few friends over the next few years. Politico reports this morning that the EPA is desperate for friends in the Senate. With a large number of new House members pledging to limit the EPA’s authority on everything from GHG to pesticide regulation, the Senate is the final refuge for an agency attempting to implement environmental policy through executive fiat.

Politico also notes that a “group of Senate Democrats intends to hold weekly meetings to discuss plans to fend off attacks on the EPA, said Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). The meetings will center on ‘protecting the public, to make sure that they don’t do anything to weaken the Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act; to make sure that they don’t stop the states from their work in protecting the public from carbon and other pollutants.’”

Continue reading

The EPA at 40

With all the anticipation of Christmas and New Years over the last month, I would venture to guess most of you missed out on an important news item; important only to bureaucrats, enviro-nutters, and climate alarmists, but important nonetheless. On the 2nd of last month, the United States Environmental Protection Agency turned 40. I know, it’s hard to believe you missed it isn’t it!

The agency was established in 1970 in response to a growing public awareness of severe environmental problems within the country and its 40th birthday did not pass without significant fanfare and back-slapping amongst the agency’s most ardent supporters.

Continue reading

Delegates Urge Congressional Oversight of EPA

Asserting that the  Environmental Protection Agency is “implementing an aggressive regulatory program that burdens the nation’s farmers and ranchers,” delegates at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting today urged Congress to “pursue vigorous oversight” of the agency.

They cited a recent expansion in EPA regulatory actions aimed at agriculture that ignores farmers’ and ranchers’ “positive contributions to environmental protection.”

Continue reading

U.S. Signals Intention to End Trucking Dispute

After more than a year, the Obama administration has moved on its promise to help fix the trade dispute with Mexico over the cross-border trucking program, a provision contained in the NAFTA agreement. The dispute centers around the nixing of a bush-era program that allowed Mexican trucks to operate north of the border.

Since the cancellation of the program, the Mexican government has slapped the U.S. with over $2 billion in punitive tariffs.

Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood delivered a concept plan to congress last week that announced the administrations intention to end the trucking ban. The transportation secretary said a formal proposal could emerge in coming months, and another U.S. official said the goal was to have the nearly two-year-old ban lifted “as soon as possible.”

Continue reading

USDA U-Turn on Roundup Ready Alfalfa

Despite a previous committment to full deregulation of biotech alfalfa, Sec. Tom Vilsack (right) is now entertaining the idea of releasing the crop with various restrictions.

Despite the USDA’s own proposal from last year, Sec. Vilsack’s department is now reversing course on deregulating Roundup Ready Alfalfa. According to the Department’s environmental review, the alfalfa was judged substantially equivalent to other varieties without red flags for regulators. But instead of taking the news as a green light to let the alfalfa on the market, as they have with other biotech plants like corn, USDA is waffling.

Now, the deregulation of Roundup Ready alfalfa could be accompanied by restrictions on seed production and, in some cases, cultivation of the hay itself, should USDA decide on implementing one of two preferred alternatives presented in a court-ordered environmental review of the crop.

The Wall Street Journal has strong words about the decision to “invite representatives from the biotech and organic industries to USDA in the coming days to discuss how the two farming methods may coexist.”

By suggesting that industry and activist groups negotiate compromises in advance of the final ruling on whether to deregulate, Mr. Vilsack is using the Department’s regulatory authority as leverage against businesses whose products are overwhelmingly regulated by USDA.

It gets worse. Mr. Vilsack’s authority in the regulatory decision-making process is based on the assumption of sound scientific data. But according to people who attended the meeting last Monday, the USDA Secretary told the assembled groups that science itself is subjective, and that he could have three different groups bring him three different supposedly scientific opinions.

Continue reading

Salazar Offered Ag Comissioner Job

According to the Daily Sentinel, U.S. Rep. John Salazar is close to accepting an offer from Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper to head the Colorado Department of Agriculture, two highly placed sources close to the Denver mayor’s transition team confirmed Thursday.

USDA to Move Forward with Cost-Benefit Analysis of GIPSA Rule

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told poultry and meat industry representatives on Monday that USDA will conduct a more thorough cost benefit analysis of new livestock marketing rules proposed by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).

Vilsack declined to speculate how long the review process would take, but said the rule as published June 22 was a draft and could be extensively changed before being finalized.

Industry groups weighed in extensively with their concerns about the proposals during an extended comment period which ended Nov. 22, including criticizing the lack of an adequate economic analysis in the proposed rule.

“A serious and robust analysis of the economic impact of the proposed GIPSA rule is long overdue,” said NCC Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Bill Roenigk.  “The rule will have a profound, far-reaching and costly impact on the poultry and livestock industries, and it should not have been put forth without an appropriate analysis of its impact on farmers and ranchers, industry, and consumers.”

USDA urges support for National Broadband Plan

USDA has submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission to support development of the National Broadband Plan based on USDA’s considerable experience in financing broadband projects in rural areas. The FCC is implementing the plan to guide broadband deployment nationwide.

“Robust economic growth and job creation in rural America depend on the quality and reach of broadband networks, where distance and density restrain economic activity,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Broadband networks create economic opportunity and open unparalleled access to health care, educational, cultural and public safety services essential for over 50 million Americans who live in rural areas.”

Continue reading

EPA under suit for Ethanol Blend Decisiod

Agriculture Resumes its Infighting

The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the American Meat Institute joined other groups in filing a lawsuit Tuesday against EPA to overturn the agency’s decision to allow a higher ethanol blend in gasoline. The groups said EPA overstepped its authority in allowing cars built in 2007 and later to burn E15 or gasoline with a blend of 15 percent ethanol.

In its filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals, the groups said EPA “clearly exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act” and “the agency has a legal obligation to adhere to the letter and spirit of the Clean Air Act and, in this case, has failed to do so.”

The American Farm Bureau is a proponent of the blend increase ruling. “Ethanol is a clean-burning, home-grown renewable fuel. Increasing the percentage of ethanol in the domestic gasoline supply moves our nation one step closer to greater energy independence,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “It also promotes job creation in rural America.”

Medicaid Expansion will Bankrupt States

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is expected to add up to 16 million more Medicaid enrollees and expand eligibility for families. Although the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of the newly eligible, newly enrolled populations and 95 percent of the costs through 2019, hidden costs will strain already tight state budgets.

Image:(stuartpilbrow)

Continue reading

USDA has a Problem with Potatoes

Potato growers are fighting efforts to ban or limit potatoes in federal child nutrition programs.

The USDA, which administers the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program—one of the largest federal food assistance programs—is now finalizing an interim rule that bars participants from buying potatoes with their federal dollars.  The agency is also taking steps to limit potatoes in the federal School Lunch Program.

The exclusion of potatoes apparently stems from a recommendation in a report from the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine.  A spokesperson for that organization says the recommendation was made “to encourage the consumption of other fruits and vegetables.”  She says Americans aren’t consuming enough of what she calls “dark green leafy vegetables—orange, yellow, red ones, et cetera.”

Continue reading

EPA Approves Ethanol Increase in Gasoline

The EPA yesterday approved a request by Growth Energy, and ethanol industry trade group, to increase the amount of ethanol blended into regular unleaded gasoline from 10 to a maximum of 15%. The approval of the ‘green jobs waiver’ will allow companies to blend up to 15% ethanol into motor vehicle fuel creating a blend known as E-15.

The new standard applies only to 2007 and newer model cars and trucks. EPA is expected to decide whether to approve E15 for vehicles 2001 to 2006 in November.

According to Growth Energy, the group that proposed the new standard, the decision is the first move to help eliminate the ‘blend wall’ or the point at which no more ethanol can be used by the U.S. fleet due to the arbitrary 10% blend limit.

Continue reading

Learn More about GIPSA

GIPSA, the federal agency responsible for issuing regulations that govern contracting, buying and selling of livestock and poultry has written new rules that- if finalized- would drastically change the way that producers, packers, dealers and contractors raise, buy, and sell livestock and poultry.

The National Agricultural Law Center at the University of Arkansas is hosting a series of workshops, including a webinar, for poultry and livestock producers. At these workshops, staff attorneys will provide an overview of GIPSA’s proposed rule changes for poultry and livestock, review the UDSA rule-making process, explain how to submit comments on the proposed rules, and include a question and answer session. The webinar will be hosted via eXtension for participants around the country. All workshops and Webinar are free and open to the public.

Webinar (Nationwide)

Date: Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010
Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (CST)

Additional information can be found at the National Agricultural Law Center homepage.

USDA Paying Direct Farm Program & CRP Rental Payments In Oct.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday that USDA will pay farmers and ranchers some $3.8 billion in final 2010 direct payments and $1.6 billion in annual Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) rental payments during October.

“October is an important production month because CRP rental payments, direct and counter-cyclical payments (DCP), and now Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) payments are paid during this first month of the federal fiscal year,” Vilsack explained. “These funds support the agricultural economy and responsible stewardship of America’s production acreage.”

Beginning Oct. 12, final direct payments for the DCP and ACRE programs will be made to more than 1.1 million producers enrolled in these programs. Participants in DCP or ACRE had the option of receiving a 22 percent advance direct payment when the farm was enrolled or delaying the direct payment until after the end of the fiscal year. ACRE revenue payments are scheduled to be made at a later time.

Image(CarbonNYC)

EPA Gets Slammed…Again

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was the target of some very harsh criticism at a forum in Washington, D.C. Wednesday.

The participants of the RASG gather prior to yesterdays forum.

The event, which was hosted by the GOP-sponsored Rural America Solutions Group, was entitled “The EPA’s Assault on Rural America”.   One of those testifying was Tamara Thies, chief environmental counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.  Thies accused the EPA of, in her words, “waging an unprecedented war to end modern production of animal agriculture.

Thies cited several examples of EPA’s over-regulation, including its proposal to regulate dust.  She says under such rules, farmers and ranchers could be fined for everyday activities like driving a tractor down a dirt road or tilling a field.

You can watch the video of the forum here.

Continue reading

More Lawmakers Oppose EPA Dust Regulation

Yesterday, a group of US Representatives wrote a detailed letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opposing the July 2010 proposed Particulate Matter (PM) standards. Lawmakers state the proposed policy assessment, “lays the foundation for establishing the most stringent and unparalleled regulation of dust in our nation’s history. We urge the EPA to refrain from going down this path.” The letter goes on to read that scientific studies are “ambiguous” in support of the regulation tightening and thus can not be used as foundational support.

The letter represents additional push back from lawmakers. Last week members on the Senate Ag Committee questioned EPA Administrator Jackson about whether her agency “has it in” for American Ag.

Lawmakers respect efforts for clean and health environment, but do not support and find scientific evidence to not support the need for revising the dust standard. Tightening dust regulations will only hurt the rural communities, not benefit them. Some seventy-five US House members, including Colorado Representatives Betsy Markey and Mike Coffeman, signed the letter to Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the EPA.

Image(a.drian)

Senators Stand Up for Ag Against EPA Bullying

Sen. Mike Johanns (R- Neb.)

The overwhelming message from Senate Ag Committee members Thursday to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is the agency seems bent on over-regulating farmers and ranchers.

Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns told Jackson her agency gives “lip service” to ag but is actually hammering the little guy.

“The big guy that can get capital in loans, and access that, will somehow find a way to deal with what you’re requiring even though it’s enormously onerous.  And, even when you exempt, or we exempt, the smaller operator they still feel the ripple effects of what you are doing,” Johanns said.

Continue reading

River Task Force to Hold First Meeting

The Governor’s River Access Dispute Resolution Task Force will be meeting on September 22, 2010 at the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District office in Salida (339 E. Rainbow).  The meeting starts at 2:00 p.m. and is expected to run until 7:00 p.m. Public testimony will be allowed at the meeting in Salida starting at around 5:00 p.m.

Members are encourage to attend and voice their opinion about how the process should be set up.

Governor Ritter created this task force in response to the contentious right-to-float bill (HB10-1188) that was debated in the 2010 Legislative session.  The purpose of the task force is not to resolve the legal/policy debate on right-to-float but is to establish a framework to resolve the disputes as they arise.  The task force is charged with coming up with a fair and efficient dispute resolution process for boaters (both commercial and private), anglers and landowners.  A report shall be submitted to the Governor no later than December 31, 2010.

%d bloggers like this: