Rep. Austin Scott, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture, held a public hearing to review the impact of enforcement activities by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on specialty crop growers. Specifically, Subcommittee Members addressed growing concerns that DOL is using the "Hot Goods" provision under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) in an arbitrary manner against producers of perishable agricultural commodities without regard for the inevitable destruction of the product and significant economic hardship inflicted on farmers and their employees.
Ag Committee Asks GAO to Analyze True Costs of Water Quality Rules
U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest and Ranking Minority Member Charlie Stenholm have formally requested that the General Accounting Office analyze costs to the agriculture and forestry sectors from additional water quality regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.
In their bipartisan letter requesting the GAO study, Reps. Combest (R-TX) and Stenholm (D-TX) stated their concerns that EPA has not attempted to undertake a legitimate analysis in concert with USDA, and vastly understated the true cost of Water Quality Planning and Management Regulations regarding Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs).
"With the potential for a tremendous impact on rural America and the agencies that serve it, we believe that an impartial entity such as the General Accounting Office should be involved in reviewing this issue," according to Combest and Stenholm.
While EPA estimates the total cost to states would not exceed $25 million annually, the USDA has estimated that just one element of the TMDLs would cost $100 million each year.
Combest and Stenholm noted they are hopeful that several pending congressional requests at USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Forest Service for a comprehensive review of the potential costs will
receive adequate resources and accurate analysis by USDA.