After waging a successful battle against unreasonable proposals to regulate farm dust and teenagers who work on family farms and ranches, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today moved to amend the Farm Bill to include strong new safeguards against any future attempts at unnecessary and burdensome federal rules on farmers and ranchers.
McCaskill, who was born and raised in small town Missouri, introduced an amendment to the Farm Bill that would dramatically strengthen the authority of a farm policy advisory position at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-a position that currently exists, but that is not required by law. McCaskill's measure would establish a framework in which that official would serve as an important check against new unnecessary federal regulations that would negatively impact agriculture.
"We can keep batting down each unreasonable or unneeded regulation on our farms and ranches like a game of whack-a-mole, or we can tackle the root issue head on-that farmers and ranchers need a seat at the table when these decisions are made," McCaskill said. "That's exactly the gap my plan would bridge-by making sure the EPA has an in-house agriculture advisor at all times, and giving that position real authority. That way, before any new rule can be issued that will affect the jobs and livelihoods of farming families across rural America, whoever thinks the rule is a good idea would be forced to hear-and respond to-some common sense from folks who know the business of agriculture."
McCaskill's amendment would require the EPA's Chief Agriculture Counsel to weigh in on behalf of farmers and ranchers on any proposed new regulations that would have a significant impact on agriculture, and would require the EPA Administrator to issue a written response to any concerns raised by the advisor. McCaskill also introduced a separate amendment today, along with Sen. Amy Klobochar (D-Minn.), which would allow the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to appoint farmers or ranchers to the EPA's Science Advisory Board, doubling the number of members with a background in agriculture serving on the Board.
The Farm Bill currently being debated in the Senate would protect agriculture jobs and reduce the national deficit by $23 billion by streamlining and consolidating federal programs and ending unnecessary farm subsidies, while preserving important resources for farm and ranch families and strengthening the crop insurance program-issues which are critical to the livelihoods of Missouri's farmers and ranchers.
McCaskill also renewed her support today for two other proposals that would bar the federal government from issuing future rules regulating farm dust and limit the ability of teenagers to work on family farms and ranches. McCaskill is also supporting an amendment to prohibit the EPA from requiring duplicative permits for pesticide use.