Rep. Jean Schmidt: The EPA Threatens Ag Sector jobs

By February 14, 2011Briefly Legal, Regulations

The possiblity of the EPA regulating spilled milk under the same rules as oil spills has drawn scorn and outrage throughout Farm Country, but it’s just one of the incredible example of regulatory overreach coming from the agency that will hurt job creation in the agriculture sector, including the hundreds of thousands of ag-related manufacturing jobs. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) discussed the full onslaught in her floor remarks last week on H.Res. 72, directing House committees to inventory and review existing, pending, and proposed regulations and orders from federal agencies, especially for their effect on jobs and economic growth.

It’s great to see a member of Congress standing up for the wise use of pesticides, which does so much to ensure safe and abundant farm production in this country and worldwide.

Rep. Schmidt’s floor statement:

Madam Speaker, I can’t think of a single agency of the Federal Government that poses more threats to jobs in our economy than the Environmental Protection Agency. As chairwoman of the Nutrition and Horticulture Subcommittee, I am especially alert to the threat the EPA poses to those charged with providing food and fiber for our Nation.

There are so many examples of actions undertaken by this President’s EPA that defy sound science, good judgment, and will only result in putting America’s farmers and ranchers out of business.

For example, the EPA has proposed a zero-risk standard on pesticide spray drift. The EPA is proposing a standard that even it admits is unachievable. This proposed standard leaves our agricultural producers vulnerable to enormous compliance costs and untold numbers of potential lawsuits.

Another example, the EPA has withdrawn a proposed exemption for milk from the Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures program. This move puts the livelihoods of our dairy farmers in jeopardy because they could face enormous compliance costs.

Under this regulation, milk would be treated as if it were motor oil, thereby necessitating dairy farmers across the country to comply with costly, burdensome rules designed to control storage of toxic substances. As far as I can tell, the agency’s only stated reason for withdrawing this proposed exemption is that it was initiated under the Bush administration. Yet more than 2 years later, our dairy farmers are still in limbo.

Another example of the EPA’s disconnect with science at the expense of the economy is the agency’s unprecedented multiyear, multimillion-dollar re-reevaluation of a popular herbicide. Only 2 years earlier, the agency completed a 12-year review of 6,000 scientific studies and concluded that the product is safe. I suppose the logic for this re-reevaluation is that with trillions of dollars deficits we face, we have the money to burn on pet causes of radical environmental groups.

As if the agency didn’t have enough on its plate, we see that they have issued a draft pesticide registration notice entitled, “False or Misleading Pesticide Product Brand Names.” Note that the EPA is now attempting to regulate not the safety of the product but the name of the product and even the name of the company that manufacturers it. This notice threatens to undermine the very investment in our economy that this President spoke about 2 weeks ago in this very Chamber.

The President’s EPA is threatening a potential loss of approximately $2.5 billion in brand equity for U.S. businesses.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-TX) also gave an excellent floor speech on the damage that regulatory excess inflicts upon the farm economy.

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