Archive for July, 2011

Environmental Oversight Affects Farmers

July 1, 2011

As a representative of Ohio’s farming community, OCWGA has great respect for the land and understands its responsibility to help protect it. Our farmers engage in daily practices from no-till farming, to crop rotation and responsible land use, to safeguard air quality, soil loss, energy use, climate impact, biodiversity and water use and quality.

However, a balance is sought between legitimate environmental concerns and the economic realities of farming. OCWGA supports programs that ensure environmental permanence with the need to maintain a long-term, dependable food supply and the necessity for long-term profitability in farming.

The EPA requires adherence to strict plans and procedures, recordkeeping and reporting requirements for a variety of its programs, with the implementation of one-size-fits-all numeric criteria. The federal government threatens states with stringent accountability measures (“backstops”) if these environmental goals are not met.

State and local jurisdictions have argued that, oftentimes EPA mandates are far too costly, especially considering current economic and budgetary conditions. Others believe that the science behind EPA’s pollution estimates is also flawed, that the agency has overreached its authority and that the regulatory process lacks transparency.

Many water-quality initiatives are currently being addressed that re-examine former legislation and/or introduce new amendments:

  • In 2009, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an EPA rulemaking that specifically exempted aquatic pesticides from Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting requirements. The EPA and state regulatory agencies are now forced to develop a NPDES permitting system for pesticide applications.
  • In December 2010, the EPA finalized the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) or “pollution diet” for the Chesapeake Bay watershed. A TMDL is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can receive and still safely meet water quality standards. More than 40,000 TMDLs have been developed throughout the country since the act was first adopted that limit nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment loads for six states (MD, VA, PA, WV, DE, NY) and the District of Columbia.
  • In the Midwest, activists groups have recently threatened to sue EPA to force the agency to establish numeric nutrient criteria for every state in the Mississippi River Basin to address nutrient loading and ultimately hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico.

Recently, however, water-quality legislation made the business of farming more feasible for the agricultural industry. H.R. 872 — the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act — amended the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act, to protect pesticide applicators, their customers and state and local government from costs associated with duplicating already existing federal pesticide regulations.

In the House, Ohio’s Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) and Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) generated and supported H.R. 872 to lessen regulatory burdens. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) voted for this legislation on Tuesday in the agriculture committee of the U.S. Senate.

Ohio’s corn and wheat growers understand the value of sustainable agriculture, but it’s an ever-present challenge to demonstrate our understanding and compassion for the environment while simultaneously ensuring a safe, affordable, abundant food supply.

At OCWGA, we believe and continue to advocate for the use of advanced seed varieties, modern technology and conservation farming methods to safeguard our environment for years to come.  As always, we welcome any questions or comments about or related to our work to advance the Ohio grain industry. If you’re interested in joining in OCWGA, please contact us.