24 April 2011- EPA Administrator Visits Iowa Farms

I really don’t think there has ever been a strong "friend" relationship between America’s farmers and ranchers and the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency. Farmers and ranchers I talk to about the agency say they feel that it’s people sitting in their Washington offices without ever setting foot on a farm or ranch, coming up with ideas on what farmers and ranchers should do for the environment, with little or no understanding of what it takes to produce food.

Last year before the November election, the EPA became a real lightning rod as critics said to members of Congress, "Do something about the rule-making mandated by the EPA; the agency is over-stepping its authority and taking over the role which should be left to Congress."

Well, something happened a few days ago that I find encouraging and I want to give Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack credit because I am sure this event happened because of him. He traveled to his home state of Iowa and invited EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, to accompany him, which she did. They met with farmers and ranchers to discuss EPA and USDA’s joint efforts to ensure that American agriculture continues to be productive. They visited a livestock farm in Pleasantville, a 1600-acre row-crop farm in Prairie City and a bio-diesel plant in Newton.

After visiting the farms and spending time talking to the farm families Lisa Jackson made this statement: "These opportunities to talk with farmers on their land and see their operations at work are incredibly valuable. Open communication and transparency are the essential first steps toward protecting air and water quality and ensuring the health of farming communities. Agriculture is part of the foundation of the American economy. EPA’s mission to safeguard clean air, clear water and productive land is a critical part of sustaining farming jobs and productivity, and it’s vital that we communicate and work together on these issues we share."

Now, some of you may say those are the words she knew people wanted to hear, strictly political talk. But I will give her the benefit of the doubt because I don’t think anyone can set foot on a farm or ranch today and not come away with a better understanding of what it takes to produce food and an admiration for the families that accept this daily challenge.

She has the opportunity to prove me right or wrong in July when she will announce the critical rule dealing with controlling dust on farms and ranches. I hope the Iowa farmers told her that containing dust inside their farm boundary is as impossible as catching a falling star. I am glad the EPA Administrator went to Iowa and I thank Secretary Vilsack for making it happen.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.