Has the EPA turned over a new leaf? The new administrator says the agency wants to build a better relationship with farmers. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Nominee Gina McCarthy said, during her Senate confirmation hearing, that the EPA has bridges to build with the agriculture community. They started by appointing a new Senior Agricultural Counselor, Sarah Bittleman, who met with the ag media on Tuesday and admitted the agency has some work to do, “I am here to advance the President’s priority of a clean energy future, and we can do that with agriculture as a partner.” She said the EPA must work hard to restore trust among farmers and farm groups, “I think there are some issues of trust that are definitely at play here. My job is to figure out how to restore some of that trust.”
One of the ways she said the agency will do this is to work more closely with farm groups and individual farmers. In addition, Bittleman said the agency needs to work more closely with state agencies such as the Indiana Department of Environmental Management when it comes to establishing regulations and standards. She admitted many times these agencies have a higher trust level with agriculture than the EPA, “We don’t need to be the face of everything. These other folks are working on cleaner air, water, and land, and we can partner with them and add to their knowledge base.”
Given the events of the past 5 years, it may take some time before the EPA will be seen as a farmer-friendly agency.