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15 March 2009 - Is This Stupidity Contagious?

This week I am going to add to your farming vocabulary with a term that I am afraid will become all too common in the not-too- distant future. Here it is: ‘coarse particulate matter’. When I was growing up, we called it dust and I think that is what most farmers and ranchers call it today... DUST!

But in the courtroom and in the Environmental Protection Agency, it is known as ‘coarse particulate matter’. Under rules imposed in 2006 by the E.P.A., rural areas would be held to the same standards as urban areas when it comes to dust control. The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Pork Producers Council had petitioned the government to provide an exemption to farmers. They argued that evidence of harm caused by dust in rural areas had not been determined.

A few days ago, the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington ruled that the E.P.A. had already provided the evidence necessary to determine farm dust “likely is not safe.” In other words, if you create dust in your agricultural operation you are going to have to keep it inside the line fence of your farm or ranch.

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley who farms in northeastern Iowa said “It is such a non-common sense idea that you could keep dust within a property line when the wind blows”. In a letter he sent to the E.P.A., the Senator said “compliance would be impossible because of the dust produced in farmer’s day-to-day activities.” Grassley also noted that because many rural roads are not paved, particulate readings could be affected by wind gusts that constantly change.

So, here we go again....rules made by people who really don’t understand what life is like in farming and ranching communities today. Add this to the proposal to tax livestock because animals expel into the atmosphere unwanted gases that cause global warming and it has me wondering what’s next on the list of the Washington bureaucrats to make life difficult for U.S. food producers.

My concern is that if government keeps adding unrealistic rules and regulations that make it impossible for farmers to put food on our table, then food production will move to other countries and we would have no control over production practices or food safety. Is that what U.S. consumers really want? I think not, but we in agriculture must step up the pressure on Washington rule-makers to listen to producers in the country before they create more, as Senator Grassley put it, “non- common sense” ideas to hinder farmers and ranchers. Enough of this ‘coarse particulate matter’ stuff; it’s dust and when the wind blows, the dust will be “blowing in the wind”, totally ignoring the government rules.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.