16 April 2011 - Finally, Some Wins for Farmers

It seems to me that every week farmers get attacked or sued by individuals or groups because of environmental practices. They are taken to court, and as one farmer e-mailed me recently, "We get to the courtroom, we don’t have the dollars to hire a battery of top lawyers and so we lose the case."

That is why this week I am delighted to share with you two headlines that declare victory for agriculture. Headline #1 . . . "Environmental Protection Agency exempts milk from spill control rules." This is one of those silly rules that the National Milk Producers Federation has been fighting for two years and finally a few days ago, Lisa Jackson, the Administrator of the EPA said, and I quote "That exemption is now, today, finished with White House review and will be published today."

This is the proposed rule that tried to put dairy farmers into the same category as oil producers. The Environmental Protection Agency requires operators with oil tanks and containers to write a plan to prevent and control spills. Jackson said the Spill Control regulation also covered animal fats, which led to the proposal to include dairy farmers with milk storage tanks, since milk contains animal fat. Thanks to this official EPA ruling, dairy farmers don’t have to worry. It is a common-sense win for agriculture!

The other headline came from the front page of the Sacramento Bee in California... "Delta Diversion Plan takes a hit when the judge sides with farmers." San Joaquin Superior Court judge John Farrell ruled that the access to farms and property sought by the California State Department of Water Resources amounted to a ‘taking of land without adequate compensation or protections’. The court decision said California state workers cannot set foot on Delta farms to start designing a controversial canal or tunnel to divert water south, the cornerstone of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. The proposed work would have taken three weeks with trucks, forklifts, and heavy drilling rigs burrowing 200 feet into the soil; and the only compensation would be for any damages incurred.

Thomas Keeling, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said that "this was simply a water grab and a violation of farmer property because they were not going to pay farmers for coming onto the land, drilling holes and disrupting planting to carry out the tests they needed." The judge agreed and told the state of California "No, you can’t do that." Another win for farmers and ranchers, and I am delighted!

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.