Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a full committee hearing on the Agriculture Creates Real Employment (ACRE) Act.
The hearing featured testimony from Doug Miyamoto, director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture; Ryan Yates, director of congressional relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation; and Jim Lyons, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and lecturer at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
For more information on their testimonies click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Today we will hold a legislative hearing on the Agriculture Creates Real Employment or the ACRE Act.
“This is bipartisan draft legislation to help farmers, ranchers, and the communities that depend on them, get relief from burdensome federal regulations and policies.
“The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has a unique role to play in the policies that impact agriculture.
“Just last month, this committee held a hearing on this important issue, and we heard testimony from real farmers and ranchers representing a diverse group of states.
“The message from our witnesses’ testimony was clear: the negative impact of many federal environmental regulations and policies on American farming and ranching communities is real and needs to be addressed.
“The testimony we heard was not about the value of environmental regulations, but about how some federal regulations can be inflexible, antiquated, duplicative, and ultimately harmful to American agriculture, a critical part of our nation’s economy.
“The draft bill we are discussing today is designed to provide relief for hard-working people that put a shovel in the ground everyday working to feed this country.
“I believe the ACRE Act provides that relief.
“My bill addresses many issues that are critical to ranchers and farmers.
“These include: protecting farmer’s and rancher’s privacy; eliminating duplicative environmental permitting for the use of pesticides; addressing unneeded and counterproductive reporting requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA); and doing away with the unfair punishment of farmers who are wrongly accused of baiting migratory game birds simply because they are following normal farming practices.
“The bill also supports an efficient permitting process at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for predator control.
“The change will allow ranchers and farmers to better protect their livestock from predator attacks.
“Most of these provisions were introduced as individual bills and have bipartisan support.
“One such bill introduced by Senator Fischer, the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act or the FARM Act, has 12 Democrat cosponsors including our ranking member.
“This bill addresses new animal waste emission reporting requirements.
“Over the past several months, farmers and ranchers struggled to comply with ambiguous agency directives following an April 2017 decision in the D.C. Circuit Court.
“The ruling meant up to 100,000 farmers and ranchers, who had never been required to report under these laws, were suddenly required to comply.
“Even though they wanted to comply with the ruling, the process and implications of compliance were unclear.
“Because both CERCLA and EPCRA were not written with the intent of regulating these farms and ranches, the requirement to report emissions from animal waste came without context and largely without agency guidance.
“Another bill is Senator Crapo’s S.340, the Sensible Environmental Protection Act, which was introduced with Democrat Senators Donnelly, Heitkamp, and McCaskill.
“This bill amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act or FIFRA and the Clean Water Act to eliminate a duplicative permitting requirement.
“The bill prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from requiring a permit under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System for a pesticide application from a point source, as long as the application is approved under FIFRA.
“In addition, the ACRE Act also has legislation sponsored by independent Senator Angus King, S.1206, which will ensure fair treatment in licensing requirements for the export of certain echinoderms.
“Let us remember that farmers and ranchers are the original stewards.
“They understand that landscapes and watersheds need to be healthy to support native plants, wildlife, crops, and livestock.
“They are living proof that interacting with nature can be done in an environmentally sound way, often leaving the resources in better condition than they found them.
“Washington policies do not always translate well in rural America.
“As I mentioned at our last agriculture hearing in February, when I was home in Wyoming, I often hear how out of touch environmental regulations have become.
“It has gotten to the point where ranchers and farmers are burdened by the thought that they will be fined thousands of dollars for simply putting a shovel in the ground.
“I believe we should prioritize updating and revising policies that while well-intentioned, were never designed to micromanage agricultural production.
“That is what the ACRE Act does.”