By Dean Shipley
Steve Stivers is making the rounds. A congressman now for 60 days, Stivers (R- 15) met with 13 members of the Farm Bureau for a Monday morning breakfast meeting at Der Dutchman Restaurant in Plain City.
Topics of conversation ran a gamut from the national debt, EPA regulations, to whatever. At $14 trillion the national debt is what Stivers described as "scary." To try to remove some of the scariness out of that debt he said the House of Representatives wants to and will pass legislation to cut spending.
But he said the Senate "didn't want to stop spending." He said the senators want to keep what he called "stimulus-level spending." Stivers feels the stimulus package pushed by the Obama administration "didn't work."
He cites the government for that failing of the package meant to stimulate the American economy. "Government isn't always the best at allocating resources to make it effective," Stivers said. He would like for government to get out of the way of business so it can hire employees and make America competitive again.
The farmers agreed EPA has much too much power to regulate their industry. Andra Troyer said the EPA has imposed too many regulations. Mike Boerger said it and another agency have created laws he describes as "redundant." Those redundancies in laws "affects our ability to be competitive."
Boerger also cited an incidence of EPA's power to halt a bridge-replacement project. By closing the bridge on Rosedale-Plain City Road over the Little Darby Creek -- which he said at that spot on the stream it is not a scenic waterway -- farmers must seek detours, which in turn, force them to use more fuel.
Jeff Schilling of Franklin County said the EPA should not have the level of power it does have.
"We need to find a way to check their power," Schilling said.
Stivers said legislation is being proposed by a colleague from Kentucky, Geoff Davis. Entitled the Reins Act, it is aimed at exerting some control on the EPA and other regulators across the entire federal government. One of the requirements of the legislation will be that a cost-benefit analysis be performed before a project is set in motion.
Stivers said Congress has oversight authority over the EPA it has not used. Stivers noted that farmers are currently experiencing high prices for corn and soybeans. But as Boerger pointed out, as the price per bushel ofcorn or soybeans goes up, so does the cost of their inputs, which include seed and fertilizer.
The topic of bike trails came up. It's not a "happy" topic among farmers, who feel, in general, money from tax revenues channeled that way should be, instead, used to refurbish roads and bridges.
Troyer suggested charging a fee for using the trails, much the same as snowmobile riders pay fees to use trails in Michigan."We need to figure out how to fund our priorities," Stivers said. "We like bike paths, but we need to fund our priorities first."
Dawn Assen felt the hourand-a-half with Congressman Stivers was "very informative."
"I think he's going to do a lot of good things for agriculture," she said.
Mike Boerger, of Pike Township, said he was glad Stivers was in office and in Plain City.
"He's a breath of fresh air. He's probably the most available Congressman we've had in years," Boerger said. Troyer said Stivers "cares about what we think."