As the Farm Bill comes up for debate in 2012, the focus needs to be on ensuring America remains dependent on no other nation to feed our families. Our farm programs must be structured to empower our farmers and ranchers and give them the freedom to produce and market their products. Existing programs, including federal crop insurance, provide this necessary protection for Nebraska farmers, without artificially inflating the price of commodities.
There is perhaps no industry as energy-intensive as agriculture. From fertilizer costs to irrigation to fuel for equipment, agriculture requires energy. As a result, our energy and agriculture policies should go hand-in-hand -- we cannot tweak one without necessarily affecting the other. When energy prices rise, Nebraska feels the effects.
The overreach of the federal government, particularly the Environmental Protection Agency, is one of the greatest obstacles to efficient agricultural production. Farmers and ranchers are the stewards of the land and they understand the value of preserving our natural resources for future generations. No one works harder to achieve sustainability than our friends in the agricultural sector. Overtime, the EPA has become another governmental bureaucracy run amok. As Attorney General, I have challenged federal authority relating to the environment and natural resources more than a dozen times. Most recently, I led a group of states joining Texas, Alabama, and Virginia, challenging EPA's efforts to regulate greenhouse gases. Not only is the need to regulate greenhouse gases questionable, but the manner in which EPA went about its attempt to expand its regulation, was entirely inappropriate.
We need less suspicion and more common sense in our approach to the environmental regulation of production agriculture. Given EPA's recent efforts to exponentially expand its regulatory authority, further Congressional oversight is necessary. In recent years EPA has treated agricultural producers as the enemy, ignoring the positive impacts good stewardship by agricultural producers have achieved, including water and soil conservation, maximizing utility of fertilizers and pesticides, and expenditure of substantial dollars to prevent discharges on livestock operations.