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The Problems for Ag in Washington DC

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DC impact on Ag

Jon Doggett-NCGAAt last week’s Indiana corn and soybean joint policy forum in Indianapolis Steve Censky and Jon Doggett were asked where the responsibility falls for the regulations imposed on farmers, regulations farmers often think are unjustified. Doggett, National Corn Growers Association Vice President of Public Policy, said Congress bears some of the responsibility.

“Congress increasingly throughout the last three decades has put in legislation ‘the secretary or administrator shall have the discretion to…’ and it gives a lot of wiggle room to the agencies and to the departments. So we’ve tried to encourage folks on the hill to narrow this down. Don’t give the authority to the bureaucracy to do these things. Make some decisions yourself. Waters of the U.S. is a classic example. We wouldn’t be in this spot if there was a narrower definition of what the waters are.”

He suggested Congress tighten up the definition by re-writing the act. Doggett said there are also problems within the agencies and departments because of staffs that lack farm and rural backgrounds.

“How many of you have encouraged your son, your daughter, your grandchildren, your niece, your nephew or the kid down the road to go work for the EPA? Where am I going to manufacture these people to go work at EPA who will magically have this ag background?”

Steve Censky-ASACensky, CEO at American Soybean Association, believes EPA truly wants to establish a better relationship with agriculture.

“Current Administrator Gina McCarthy and her folks have that desire,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to see that in practice sometimes when you have the RFS that has been delayed and delayed. Of course the Waters of the U.S. rule has brought a lot of concern from folks, but I do think that through the engagement that we have had, sometimes eyes are opened up.”

He added another problem for ag emanating from DC is the difficulty passing trade agreements, and the problem there is that the President doesn’t have Trade Promotion Authority. Censky says there is a much better chance of passing TPA with the power shift in the Senate coming in the New Year.