On Friday – the Environmental Protection Agency released its proposed dust standard. While the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association welcomed news that EPA plans to retain the current standard – NCBA Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley McDonald says the issue involving farm dust is far from over. Friday’s action was simply a proposal – not the final standard. The final standard is scheduled to be released in December. According to McDonald – it’s been shown with the last two reviews of this standard that a final standard can look very different than the proposal. NCBA is encouraging the agency to stick with the proposed standard and not lower the final standard. McDonald says lowering the standard would throw a large section of the country into nonattainment.
Cattlemen – McDonald says – are really in search of certainty when it comes to rules and regulations promulgated by EPA and other agencies. That’s why NCBA supports legislation introduced by Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns and South Dakota Representative Kristi Noem that would provide permanent relief and regulatory certainty by exempting the agricultural community from EPA dust regulations. The House has approved this Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act – but the Senate version has not come up for a vote. According to McDonald – regulatory uncertainty is unnecessary and unproductive.
But even if the EPA follows through and does not revise the dust standard – McDonald says that would only provide certainty for five years. Plus – she says it does not provide any relief to the producers who spend more than a thousand dollars a day on dust control measures now. That’s why NCBA – though pleased with the plan to retain the current standard – will continue working with Congress to move toward a more permanent solution.