Long before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, America's farm families and consumers were struggling with fractured supply chains, skyrocketing input costs, and historic levels of inflation—crises spurred or exacerbated by the Administration's overly burdensome regulatory agenda. Yet, with the stroke of a pen, President Biden could take immediate action to unleash domestic production and ease the significant headwinds American agriculture producers currently face.
That's why, on June 14, 2022, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Agriculture Committee Republican Leader Glenn "GT" Thompson sent a solutions-focused letter to the President calling on the Administration to reverse overly burdensome regulations and policy barriers to U.S. production that have caused needless uncertainty for farmers, ranchers, and working families.
One day later, Rep. Thompson was joined by more than 20 original cosponsors in introducing H.R. 8069, the Reducing Farm Input Costs and Barriers to Domestic Production Act. This bill would simply enact the measures articulated in the letter, all of which President Biden fails to acknowledge will provide immediate relief to farm country and American consumers.
While the White House and Democrats offer blame and lackluster legislation, Republicans will continue to demand real, near-term solutions. Here are five (of many more) ways President Biden can bolster American agriculture production, help mitigate cost increases for consumers, and alleviate the looming threat of global food insecurity:
1. End Onerous Climate Rules
- Issue: The war on agriculture has expanded to other Federal agencies, most recently through the proposed Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) rule, "The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors," issued on March 21, 2022. Through so-called scope 3 emissions, the rule would require farmers, regardless of size, to track and report data to the companies with which they work, which is particularly concerning for agriculture. Many small farmers do not have the time or resources to comply with such onerous requirements.
- Solution: The Administration should immediately rescind the SEC's proposed rule on climate-related disclosures.
2. Take Immediate Steps to Unleash American Energy and Lower Farm Input Costs
- Issue: Rising energy costs affect the cost of fertilizer production, namely the key input of natural gas which accounts for 70-90% of the production cost of ammonia. President Biden has kept his campaign promise to wage an all-out assault on American energy. As this energy crisis surges, the Biden Administration has continually passed the buck by blaming domestic energy producers. Further, Biden's regulatory assault destroys ANY incentive for domestic energy producers to invest, which worsens energy market volatility and increases costs for vital farm inputs such as diesel fuel and fertilizer.
- Solution: President Biden must end his war on American energy and increase oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters, expedite pipeline permitting, and abandon rulemakings designed to discourage investment in American energy.
3. Refocus the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Sound Science
- Issue: Exacerbating an already untenable position for American agriculture, the EPA has recently made politicized decisions impacting the ability of producers to access crop protection tools necessary to combat pests and disease and implement conservation practices. This Administration's decision to undermine its career scientists has created additional uncertainty for producers, leaving them without readily available alternatives for key planting decisions.
- Solution: President Biden should stop politicizing the science-driven, risk-based, congressionally mandated registration and registration review process of crop protection tools and rescind recent decisions from the EPA that ignore the findings of career scientists.
4. Expand Access to Vital Critical Minerals to Increase Domestic Fertilizer Production
- Issue: A viable phosphate fertilizer industry in the United States requires reliable and predictive processes to access phosphate ore. A significant portion of the phosphate in the United States is found on federal lands in the Western U.S., though getting federal and state approvals to mine such ore is increasingly unpredictable due to permitting process delays and litigation. Having potash and phosphate included on the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) list of "critical minerals" helps ensure a streamlined and more reliable permitting process. Historically, potash has been included on the list, but it was most recently removed under the Biden Administration.
- Solution: The President should require the Secretary of the Interior to consider potash and phosphorous for inclusion on the "critical minerals" list and provide recommendations on how to boost domestic production.
5. Withdraw Recently Proposed Revision to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
- Issue: The recently proposed revisions to NEPA under the Biden Administration will only increase uncertainty and cause significant delays in the federal permitting process of extracting key minerals and will decrease domestic fertilizer production and increase costs.
- Solution: The Administration should require the Council of Environmental Quality's withdrawal of recently proposed revisions to the NEPA and reinstate the 2020 NEPA streamlining.