Regulations protect Americans from unfair business practices, protect our health and safety and help protect our environment. Some regulation is needed to hold everyone accountable for doing things the right way. But the government agencies that do the regulating also must be held accountable. They should not regulate more than Congress gave them the authority to control. They should not be able to lobby for their own proposals just to get their way. They shouldn’t get the last word on the legality of their rules and actions. They should not put their own interests above concerns about how rules would impact our economy and jobs.
The bottom line: Americans should have a regulatory process they can trust—not because it guarantees a particular outcome, but because the process is fair and transparent.
The law that governs the federal rulemaking process hasn’t been updated since 1946. A lot has changed since then. It’s easier to get information out, but it is also easier to spread “fake news” and mislead people. It’s easier for citizens to participate in the rulemaking process, but that only has value if we get accurate information to make decisions and if regulatory agencies take public input seriously rather than manipulate the process to support their own agendas.
In recent years, we have seen several examples of federal agencies exceeding their authority, ignoring the law, skipping required steps in the rulemaking process, or lobbying the public to submit comments in support of the agencies’ proposals. When challenged, agency officials have simply shrugged and said they see things differently. Power-hungry agencies have denigrated public input rather than respond in a respectful way. Clearly, it is time for reform. It is time for regulatory accountability!
The Senate is getting ready to take up the Regulatory Accountability Act, S. 951, within the next couple of weeks. The House has already passed its own version of the bill. If you haven’t already, I hope you will let your senators know that you support regulatory accountability and S. 951. If your senators already support the bill, please let them know you appreciate it. Farmers and ranchers are accountable. It’s time our government was held accountable, as well.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.