The new year will see some of the same old issues plaguing agriculture. Mike Conoway, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, says in 2016 the EPA land grab in the Waters of the US rule will continue to be a concern in Congress. He said, in a recent speech to a western farm group, that the lawsuit, which has resulted in a temporary injunction stopping implementation of WOTUS, will protect farmers until at least 2017, “The House has passed a standalone bill that forces the EPA to start over.” Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly has co-authored a similar bill in the Senate, but neither stand a change of being signed by the President. “When we get a new President, perhaps we can take a stronger approach,” said Conoway.
Another issue that the House will be carefully watching in 2016 is the release of new dietary guidelines, “These are not just recommendations but have real teeth in them and impact many programs, including the school lunch program.” Congress has already passed a measure that requires the USDA to consider sound science when making the dietary recommendations.
Conoway also says the EPA’s new power plant regulations, set to go into effect in 2018, will be an issue that Republicans in Washington will be looking to stop. Governor Pence has stated that Indiana will be on the forefront of fighting this overreach. Conoway says he is hoping a Republican President in 2017 will do away with the program which would hike electric rates sharply in states with coal burning power plants, like Indiana.