The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 20, 2011

Kline says he'll support barring EPA from regulating farm dust

LE SUEUR — The EPA has steadfastly denied it was planning to regulate dust kicked up by farm machinery, but a group of farmers meeting with U.S. Rep. John Kline aren’t convinced the issue is truly dead.

“It boggles my mind how you would regulate farm dust,” said Greg Schwarz, whose farm Kline visited Thursday morning.

The 2nd District Republican said he will still support legislation barring the EPA from regulating farm dust.

“You think you put it to rest and then it appears again,” Kline said.

Kline visited several businesses, including a cement and manufacturing plant, to talk about what he says are mountains of new and proposed regulations.

“We looked at all the regulations in the pipeline from the administration, and there were 219 major rules and regulations with an impact of more than $100 million  each.”

Farm dust regulation has been a major topic in the Midwest and a rallying point for Republicans calling for less regulation. The EPA has denied “the myth” and the agency head officially told Congress last week it wouldn’t regulate farm dust.

The issue arose because the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to periodically review its standards and alter them if necessary. After a recent review, the agency’s scientific panel proposed either retaining or halving the current standard for coarse particles, commonly containing dust, ash and chemical pollutants.

The agriculture producers told Kline they see too many regulations that, while perhaps well intentioned, cause undue hardships. A turkey producer said he’s required to get a national water discharge permit even though he discharges nothing into public waters.

Another producer said all the regulations run counter to politicians’ avowed support for family farms.

“It drives more consolidation instead of less,” said one producer. “Processors are going to say, it’s easier for us to own everything instead of having (legal) exposure though contracts with livestock producers.”    

Others said there are various rules addressing the same issue.

“When new regulations come up, they’re usually duplication and overlap,” said Schwarz, who farms 1,000 acres and raises turkeys. “We have too many agencies.”

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