The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce on Wednesday, voted in support of H.R. 1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011. The legislation passed 33-16 through the full committee with bipartisan support and will head to the full House of Representatives for a vote. National Cattlemen's Beef Association Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley Lyon said this "commonsense" legislation is gaining momentum and will receive bipartisan support when brought to a vote in the coming days.
"Allowing federal agencies to continue regulating farmers and ranchers to the point of no return is not something we will sit by and allow to happen," said Lyon. "We have to bring some accountability to regulatory agencies. They must be aware of the economic impact their actions are having on farm and ranch families throughout the country. We commend Congresswoman Kristi Noem, R-S.D., for introducing this legislation and the original cosponsors Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, Larry Kissell, D-N.C., and Robert Hurt, R-Va. We also commend members of Congress from both sides of the aisle for supporting this commonsense bill."
The Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011 would do multiple things to ensure clean air while also providing regulatory certainty for farm and ranch families, according to Lyon. She said the legislation recognizes that dust from agricultural activities has never been shown to have a health impact at ambient levels. The bill would exempt farm dust from the Clean Air Act unless the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency can prove it is a significant problem and that applying the standard is worth the costs. It also gives states and localities the rightful authority in regulating dust, which is a local issue.
"It is important that state and local governments determine what regulatory action to take regarding dust. As we all know, dust depends on geography," Lyon continued. "All regions of the country are very different and local and state governments must be allowed to set policies that make sense. The federal government's one-size-fits-all mentality is neither practical nor scientific."
If H.R. 1633 passes the House, it will move to the Senate, where it was introduced by Senators Mike Johanns, R-Neb., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and has support from 26 bipartisan senators.