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October 24, 2011

Latest on Dust Regulations for Agriculture

For more information on Newsline, contact: Kari Barbic, Media Specialist, American Farm Bureau Federation, karib@fb.org.

 
Good news from the EPA can be made better with legislation from Congress. American Farm Bureau Regulatory Specialist Rick Krause explains how in this report from AFBF’s Johnna Miller.
Miller:Farmers and ranchers recently got some welcome news…that the Environmental Protection Agency would not be expanding air quality standards that regulates agricultural dust.
Krause:That was good news for us, because that is exactly what we wanted EPA to do. Farm dust is naturally occurring, for the most part. It comes from driving on unpaved roads. It comes from tractors in farm fields. It comes from moving livestock. It’s very important for farmers and ranchers to be able to continue these and not be regulated just on the basis of the naturally occurring dust that there is. 
Miller:But American Farm Bureau Regulatory Specialist Rick Krause says farmers and ranchers still have concerns about the current dust regulations, which is why Krause says Congress needs to pass the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act.
Krause:Just in the course of the last couple of months there have been four huge dust clouds that have swept over Phoenix and this is the dust that EPA regulates. There’s no way that you can control it. There’s no way you can regulate it. So these bills would exclude from regulation naturally occurring dust that occurs from farming activities and also from things like these dust storms. We think that this is the other part of the issue that needs to be solved.
Miller:Krause says this legislation acknowledges the difference between dust that is a nuisance and what’s called "fine particulate matter" which causes serious health concerns.
Krause:This bill separates that out. It would exclude from regulation farm dust, but at the same time the bill has a provision that if scientific information does come around and is developed that shows that these materials cause health effects then it would allow EPA to regulate. It does not roll back any EPA protections. It really builds on the basis that good regulation should be based on good science. This bill would allow EPA to regulate according to what the science says. 
Miller:Johnna Miller, Washington.
Miller:We have two extra actualities with AFBF Regulatory Specialist Rick Krause. In the first extra actuality he talks about the unanticipated effects dust regulations can have on farmers and ranchers. The cut runs 29 seconds, in 3-2-1.
Krause:If farmers have to park their tractors because of dry or windy conditions, that means they’re not going to be able to get into the fields. That’s going to cost them lost time. That’s going to cost them lost productivity. If farmers and ranchers are limited to driving 15 miles per hour down country roads, that’s going to cost them a lot of time and it’s going to cost them lost productivity. All of these issues cumulatively cause significant economic burdens to farmers and ranchers.
Miller:In the second extra actuality Krause notes that the EPA acknowledged that further regulations on farm dust have no scientific basis. The cut runs 18 seconds, in 3-2-1.
Krause:During the course of their review, EPA also indicated that the scientific basis for finding health impacts from dust were very uncertain and so they basically admitted that they did not have the information necessary to further regulate farm dust. 
Miller:Newsline is updated Mondays and Thursdays by 5pm eastern time. Thank you for listening.

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