The Environmental Protection Agency faced severe criticism in Congress this week. Responding to EPA efforts to restore the Chesapeake and limit further pollution of the bay, farmers and politicians from agricultural states lashed out at the agency, claiming that they overstepped their mandate and are hurting American farmers with their stringent regulation.
The President of the Pennsylvania farm Bureau Carl Shaffer claimed that the EPA Total Maximum Daily Load requirements (which seek to limit the amount of sediment and nutrients that can be deposited in Chesapeake tributaries) would put thousands of farmers out of business and could remove hundreds of thousands of farmland from production. Shaffer further argued that Chesapeake farmers had significantly reduced pollution to the bay and that the new EPA regulations, which ignored the major efforts made by farmers, were unfair and too restrictive.
Members of the House Agriculture Committee joined the Farm Bureau in criticizing the EPA. Pennsylvania Congressman Glenn Thompson claimed that “the EPA is reaching far beyond its statutory authority granted by Congress and continually fails to comprehend the financial hardships these regulations will impose on communities within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.”
Others stressed the EPA’s lack of discourse with Chesapeake farmers and argued that they imperiously imposed regulations without consultation from those most affected by them. Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Holden state, “It is important that EPA begin to work with farmers and ranchers, who have always been the best advocates for resource conservation, to ensure environmental stewardship across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed while minimizing burdens on producers.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer