Lucas Discusses Threats to American Agriculture with Farm Broadcasters
Tamara Hinton (202) 225-0184
WASHINGTON – Today, Ranking Member Frank Lucas discussed the many threats American agriculture and rural communities face with members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting at their annual Washington Watch event.
Out-of-Touch Administration & Democratic Leadership
For the past year, the President and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have taken a governing approach that suggests they believe public policy should be in spite of the American people, instead of on behalf of the American people. They have dismissed the legitimate concerns the American people have raised regarding jobs, the economy, reckless spending, a national energy tax, and government-run health care. The message from this administration has been we know what’s best for you and we’re going to push our agenda through Congress. They’re not working to advance the interests of the American public; they’re working to advance their own interests and those of their extreme special interest allies.
- Trillion Dollar Deficits: Irresponsible and reckless deficit spending will inevitably result in significantly higher interest rates and significantly higher borrowing costs for producers.
- National Energy Tax: Production agriculture is an energy intensive industry, which already operates on slim profit margins. It’s an industry that can least afford the drastic increase in production and input costs that will result from a national energy tax.
- Healthcare Takeover: It puts the government in charge of our health care system under the deceptive banner of reform. It’s another example of the Democrats expanding the size and expense of our government
- Zero-Drift Standard: While acknowledging that some level of spray drift occurs regardless of the technology, the EPA is proposing to mandate a zero-drift standard for pesticide labels. If this change is implemented, it would make it impossible for farmers to use pesticides. It seems the intent would be to make it easier for bureaucrats to enforce, rather than for a farmer to safely and effectively apply pesticides.
- Unprecedented Re-Review of Atrazine: The EPA is engaged in an unprecedented re-review process for the widely used herbicide atrazine. The EPA only recently finished a 12 year examination of nearly 6,000 studies and concluded that the product is safe and poses no threat to human health or the environment. But, that was not sufficient for the environmental lobby and the EPA has launched this costly re-review that could jeopardize the future use of atrazine by farmers. By the EPA’s own estimate, corn growers stand to lose $28 an acre if atrazine is not available. That might not mean much to a bureaucrat in DC, but it means a significant reduction to a farmer’s bottom-line and to consumers’ budgets.
- Back Door National Energy Tax: In December, the EPA formally concluded that the breath we exhale contains a dangerous pollutant – carbon dioxide – and should be subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act. This endangerment finding is just an underhanded way of imposing de facto cap and trade regulations on the American people. This is why I joined more than 130 of my colleagues and co-sponsored a bi-partisan resolution of disapproval to block the EPA from imposing terrifying standards on the American people that would cripple agriculture and stifle economic growth in this country. This effort is also supported by nearly 200 agriculture groups and Congress should pass this resolution this summer.
Washington and Congress Telling Farmers How to Farm
- Expansion of Clean Water Act:Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN) – Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee – recently introduced legislation to drastically expand the scope and reach of the Clean Water Act. Under his legislation, every wet or potentially wet area in the US, from irrigation canals to small ponds to seasonal mud-puddles will be subject to new and sweeping regulations and permitting. Similar legislation was reported out of committee in the Senate and Chairman Oberstar has vowed to move it in the House this summer.
- Food Safety Bill - expands the government, but not government responsibility: Last year, Rep. Henry Waxman the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Democrat Leadership pushed food safety legislation through the House. While the goal of the bill is to enhance food safety, it comes at a heavy toll on producers and does virtually nothing to hold federal bureaucrats responsible for their role in preventing food borne illness. The Senate is likely to debate similar legislation in the coming weeks. Our nation has the safest food supply in the world. Even so, we must continually examine our food production and regulatory system, and move forward with changes that actually improve food safety. The Waxman bill was, at best, a missed opportunity. It expands the reach and authority of the FDA, while doing nothing to hold the agency accountable. This legislation does not require FDA to spend any additional funds on the inspection of food, but does authorize the agency to regulate on-farm production practices. And most significantly, it does nothing to protect farmers from the financial implications when the agency erroneously questions the safety of farm products – as they have so dramatically done in the past.
- Increased Regulation of Ag Chemicals: Rep. Bennie Thompson (D – MS) – Chairman of the Homeland Security and the Democrat Leadership rushed through the House last summer legislation that imposes more government mandates on our farmers, ranchers and small businesses without considering the economic impact of their actions. The Chemical and Water Security Act, has nothing to do with protecting our country from acts of terrorism. But, rather it has everything to do with pacifying the extreme environmental lobby. The legislation sets up a scenario where input supplies will be limited, costs will sky-rocket, and U.S. food security and the livelihood of our farmers will be threatened.
- Banning Animal Antibiotics:Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Chairwoman of the powerful Rules Committee, has introduced legislation to ban the safe and effective use of antibiotics in animal agriculture under the guise of improving public health. She wants to take us down the failed path Denmark followed. Denmark experienced a significant increase in animal disease and death following its ban on the practice of delivering antibiotics in feed, a practice which prevents disease and offers added benefits in terms of growth promotion, feed efficiency and environmental stewardship. What Denmark has not been able to document, even to this day, is any evidence of improved public health.
- Banning Humane Animal Agriculture Practices: We have animal rights activists who want to dictate animal raising practices to those of us in the livestock community. As a lifelong rancher from a district with many, many livestock producers, I can tell you these men and women are responsible stewards of the animals in their care. Producers I know are happy to engage in a discussion of animal welfare public policy. However, they are not willing to have that policy dictated to them by big money lobbyists with no interest or care in the fate of animal agriculture.
- No Action on Pending FTA’s: The President acknowledges the importance of trade for creating new jobs, but has been virtually absent on the issue, which includes pushing Congress to pass the pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Combined, these three trade agreements are worth more than $2.6 billion in new market access for agriculture. Each and every American can benefit from opening markets for our exports. According to the USDA, agricultural exports support one-third of all jobs on the farm as well as two-thirds of jobs off the farm in supporting industries. U.S. agricultural exports currently support nearly one million jobs. We must pass these trade agreements this summer.
- Resurrection of the Death Tax: Furthermore, the estate tax, also known as the death tax, has been a drag on America's family-owned small businesses for decades. The death tax expired at the end of last year, but will come back with a vengeance at the end of this year. The House passed an inadequate extension of the death tax last year. The exemption was too little and the rate too high. Farmers and ranchers work their entire lives to build up land and equipment for their operations only to have the estate tax take it all away. The estate tax needs to be eliminated once and for all. Doing so in the right way would lift a tremendous burden from America's family-owned small businesses, farms, and ranches.