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Congressional Rhetoric Runs into Reality on ‘Dust Rule’

Posted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in USDA Results
Feb 21, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) constantly battles false and misleading information about its rules and regulations.  No better example exists than the myth that EPA proposed to “regulate” dust on farm fields.  Simply not true! EPA is not now, nor has it ever proposed regulating dust.

The House of Representatives sought to perpetuate this myth when it passed legislation to stop the EPA from tightening national standards for coarse particles—or dust.  The Obama Administration has repeatedly explained it has no intention of doing any such thing, raising the legitimate question of why the House spent time debating a non-issue.

In fact, this Administration remains committed to preserving the competitiveness of every economic sector and to commonsense approaches to improving air quality across the country.  The Administration’s efforts over the past three years to listen to and work with America’s farmers are helping them enjoy some of the best incomes they have seen in decades.

The truth is, during this Administration, U.S. agriculture has accounted for 1 in 12 American jobs, provided American consumers with 86% of the food we consume, ensured that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most other countries, sustained year-over-year trade surpluses, and helped to support homegrown renewable energy markets.

Rather than solving a non-problem, Congress could work to extend the payroll tax cut for millions of Americans across the nation. If Congress fails to extend the current payroll tax cut, taxes will go up on millions of people at a time when families are struggling to make ends meet. That’s unacceptable, as a typical household earning $50,000 a year will see their taxes increase by $1,000. But if Congress passes the proposal laid out by President Obama, the typical family earning $50,000 a year would see that tax cut continued, and receive more than $500 additionally—for a total tax cut of $1,500. It makes no sense to raise taxes on the middle class at a time when so many are still trying to get back on their feet.

America prospers when we're all in it together; when hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded; when everyone, from Main Street to Wall Street, does their fair share and plays by the same rules. It will take time to rebuild an economy where hard work is valued and responsibility is rewarded. It will take time to rebuild an economy that restores security for the middle class and renews opportunity for folks trying to reach the middle class. So let’s not waste our valuable time engaging in false debates.  Helping the middle class is work that can’t wait.

Category/Topic: USDA Results

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Dec 14, 2011

Secretary Vilsack-

You are no friend to agriculture. You need to know the facts and not simply side with big government. The fact is, EPA already regulates farm dust. I should know, I have to spend a lot of time and money to comply. Lisa Jackson said clearly that she was considering lowering the standard, which would have forced much of the country into non-compliance! I am thankful for Kristi Noem and the 268 members of Congress that voted for this bill. Perhaps you could learn a thing or two from them.


Britton Blair
Dec 14, 2011

I’ve read a lot of nonsense about this Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011 (H.R. 1633). The biggest nonsense is coming from people calling this issue “imaginary” or “fairy dust.” In rural America, this issue is no laughing matter. I am a 27 year-old cattleman from Sturgis, S.D., hoping to make a career out of feeding the world safe and nutritious beef. However, bizarre regulations coming from this administration are making it difficult for the next generation of cowboys to choose ranching as a profession.

This administration has had every opportunity to encourage job creation and ignite the economy in rural America. Those opportunities are ignored and instead insane regulations are pursued. These regulations are killing opportunities on farms and ranches. With big government’s heavy hand, we risk putting the providers of food out of business.

Coarse Particulate Matter (dust) is one of several criteria pollutants for which EPA sets a National Ambient Air Quality Standard as mandated by the Clean Air Act. EPA already regulates farm dust. This is not imaginary. The fact that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced she was considering regulating dust at levels twice as stringent as the current standard was frightening to those of us living in dusty regions of the country.

Dec 14, 2011

Sec. Vilsack: Did you discuss this issue and the overall regulatory climate under Pres. Obama with Speaker Boehner directly? Or did you just write a political screed on your department's website instead?
via Twitter: Obama Admin’s “regulatory surge is one reason the current economic recovery has been so lackluster”…

Bas Aja
Dec 15, 2011

Preserving competitiveness and the EPA are not in the same zip code! When the biological design of the bovine demands its back feet move horizontally crossing the top of the ground for the last 3 inches of each step...and the EPA demands that beef producers sprinkle water in a dry desert to stop this biological action from creating "dust" that has nothing to do with preserving competitiveness or common sense. It s true. Its real and you can look to the Arizona Administrative Code R-18-2-611 and 611.01 and see for yourself. These are regulations that the EPA has demanded and even tried to make ever more stringent. The EPA does not have solutions - they do not have understanding of the particular circumstances of each "local area." Once the EPA was needed. In the 1960's and early 1970's - states and local governments did not have "environmental departments" or pollution prevention ideas. The EPA came along and provided some of that infrastructure. Now - every state, every county, every municipality has an environmental division and the infrastructure for pollution prevention and protection exists on at least 3 different levels everywhere! The EPA is not needed. Let's use these local environmental agencies and empower them to continue the environmental protection efforts they have been implementing for over 20 years and send the EPA away like we did the General Land Office when it was not needed.