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Sens. Chambliss, Roberts call on OMB to review regs that place “unjustifable” burden on farmers

January 27, 2011

Sensing that his administration’s ambitious regulatory agenda would come under intense Congressional scrutiny, President Obama signed an executive order  last week calling for his agencies to conduct their own regulatory review.

Our regulatory system must protect public health, welfare, safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation.  It must be based on the best available science.  It must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas.  It must promote predictability and reduce uncertainty.  It must identify and use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends.  It must take into account benefits and costs, both quantitative and qualitative.  It must ensure that regulations are accessible, consistent, written in plain language, and easy to understand.  It must measure, and seek to improve, the actual results of regulatory requirements.

Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address clearly spelled out that there are limits to the President’s regulatory review.   Anything involving clean water or air appears to be off the table.   That’s not good news for farmers who are facing a multitude of environmental rules and regs.

Enter outgoing Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Saxby Chambliss and incoming ranking member Pat Roberts.  The two Senators wrote  Wednesday to Office of Management and Budget regulatory czar Cass Sunstein urging him “to reduce burdensome and ineffective regulations impacting farmers, ranchers and rural America.”

We are fully supportive of any effort to reduce burdensome and ineffective regulation.  Therefore, we wish to draw your attention to the following measures which we believe will have a substantial and unjustifiable cost on production agriculture and rural communities across our nation.  In addition to expressing our continued concern about these provisions, we hereby request a review and subsequent analysis by your office as to whether each of these proposals is consistent with the essence and requirements of the January 18th executive order. 

The Senators call on Sunstein to report back to them with his findings on the following regulations:

  • NPDES pesticide permits
  • Re-registration of atrazine
  • Endangered Species Act
  • Risk Assessment Process/Precautionary principle — farm labor
  • Clean Water Act strategy
  • Numeric Nutrient Criteria
  • Water Quality Standards Rulemaking
  • Chesapeake Bay TMDLs
  • CAFOs
  • PM10/Dust
  • Greenhouse gas regulations

The senators are also asking for a review of USDA regulations on potential GM Alfalfa planting restrictions, livestock marketing, and proposed changes to the Foreign Market Development and Market Access Program.

Sunstein didn’t have a chance to immediately respond.  He spent Wednesday being grilled by a House Energy and Commerce investigative subcommittee and defended the administration’s regulatory approach.

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