Farmers Feel Threatened by Regulations

According to surveys conducted by the Illinois Farm Bureau, farmers consider government regulations to be the biggest threat to agricultural profits. The survey, which was filled out by nearly 400 farmers, was an attempt by the Illinois Farm Bureau to “know where our members stand on important issues and their future plans.”

As might be expected, immediate concerns for many farmers were a drop in commodity prices, increased operational costs, and drops in land prices. These fears reflect many current agricultural trends. The current increase in land prices, in part driven by higher commodity prices, has many farmers worried about an agricultural bubble (one they fear may burst, causing a collapse reminiscent of the 1980s).

Long-term concerns, however, tended to focus on the role of the government. Over 40 percent of respondents said that they feared increased government regulation could threaten long-term agricultural profits.

Fear of excessive regulation also has some roots in current agricultural policy. Over the past several months and years, government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency have tightened restrictions on pollution, most notably being the tougher rules regarding sediment deposits in Chesapeake Bay waterways. In addition, the Labor Department recently released new child labor regulations that threaten to alter vastly farm labor practices across the country. Fear of government regulation has even reached a point where politicians are passing laws to ban non-existent federal regulations (see the debate over farm dust).

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer