Last week, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall testified during the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on “The Impact of Federal Environmental Regulations and Policies on American Farming and Ranching Communities.” During his testimony, Duvall described how the current regulatory framework is harming our nation’s farmers, and called for bipartisan leadership to fix the problem. As he noted, the need for regulatory reform doesn’t stop at the farm gate. Regulations hurting farmers across the U.S. are extensive, ranging from lending and credit requirements, to health care and energy policies, to labor and immigration laws, and environmental statutes.
AFBF President Duvall told the committee:
“I have met farmers and ranchers who are not sure if they should encourage their children to remain on the farm. This is not a partisan issue. This is about allowing our farmers and businesses to be productive. It’s about a goal that I believe we all share: a regulatory process that is credible—one that we can get behind instead of having to fight against.”
With an emphasis on the broader need for regulatory reform, Duvall expressed on behalf of nearly 6 million farmer and rancher families what healthy regulatory framework might look like.
“AFBF believes strongly that everyone – farmers, regulators, environmentalists, academics, scientists, consumers and the public in general – has a vested interest in a fair, transparent, open and accountable system.”
Duvall called special attention to the need for streamlining and simplifying the rules on the books. He emphasized how outdated the current regulatory framework is, and noted how it should be modernized to keep up with the industry’s changing needs.
“The regulatory process today is the product of decades of administrative and judicial decisions, without much effort to integrate those decisions into a system that makes sense to us.”
Farmers and ranchers often encounter many duplicative regulations issued by the sprawling federal bureaucracy. Double the regulations means double the cost and double the time farmers and ranchers spend to comply with these rules.
Duvall cited specific examples from around the country and explained how sensitive farmers and ranchers are to the impacts of federal regulations:
“When a government regulation affects the ability of a farmer to use his or her land, that regulatory impact ‘hits home’ – not just figuratively but literally. That happens because the farm often is home and may have been passed down in the family for generations.”
The message AFBF sent to the committee last week is not unique to the agriculture sector, but is a common refrain for small business of all industries across the nation. Many businesses face regulatory uncertainties that can hurt their bottom line. Duvall concluded his testimony by saying:
“The need for continued oversight and reform of the nation’s environmental regulatory framework cannot be overstated. Farmers, ranchers, and small businesses rely on regulatory certainty and the constitutional protection of private property rights to make sound business decisions.”
Regulations are important and necessary, but too many burdensome regulations can cause the economy and small businesses to suffer. That’s why now is the time for both parties in Congress to come together to work on common sense regulatory reform.