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Bill would give farmers bigger voice in environmental policies

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Congressmen Bruce Braley (D-IA) and Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) introduced bipartisan legislation that would ensure that American farmers are represented in the decision-making process for environmental policies and regulations that could affect U.S. agriculture.

The Klobuchar-Lugar Representation for Farmers Act would give the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to appoint up to three members with agricultural backgrounds to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Science Advisory Board. The legislation aims to increase the share of on-the-farm technical advice the EPA considers when determining how or whether to implement proposed regulations. Currently, only three of the board's 48 members have agricultural backgrounds.

"Our farmers deserve to be represented in any decisions that affect their ability to continue to grow and produce the highest-quality food in the world," Klobuchar said. "This bill will give farmers a seat at the table and ensure that common-sense considerations are taken into account for any environmental policies."

"Regulatory actions taken by the EPA can have significant impacts on farmers of all sizes. The ability of our nation's farms to continue to safely produce an abundant food supply is imperative, and I believe this bill will improve the regulatory decision-making process," Lugar said.

The EPA Science Advisory Board is charged with providing analysis and recommendations for EPA regulations and other technical matters that often impact the U.S. agriculture industry. Farmers have become increasingly concerned that EPA decisions are creating unnecessary and undue economic hardship. Recent issues prompting concern include proposals to regulate dust on farm roads and driveways and new requirements for dairy operations to have the same spill-prevention plans that are required of oil operations. Klobuchar recently pushed the EPA to protect farms and businesses from burdensome federal dust regulations.

Senators Klobuchar and Lugar are both members of the Senate Agriculture, Forestry, and Nutrition Committee.

The legislation has been endorsed by the National Farmers Union, American Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers Association, National Wheat Growers Association, National Milk Producers Federation, and National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.