The Regulation of Dust, Yes Farm Dust

Here is another example of how far removed our government has and is going.  Farmers now face the possible fine for dust from their properties.  Am I the only one who sees this as loony?

EPA to regulate … dust posted at 9:40 am on March 2, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
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Remember when Democrats painted themselves as the farmer’s best friend?  Here in Minnesota, the Democrats call themselves the Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party as a reminder, and even through last year Democrats stumped heavily in the Midwest with their populist agenda.  I wonder whether farmers will still consider Democrats their friends when Barack Obama regulates farm dust — and penalizes them when the wind blows:

Nothing says summer in Iowa like a cloud of dust behind a combine.

But what may be a fact of life for farmers is a cause for concern to federal regulators, who are refusing to exempt growers from new environmental regulations.

It’s left some farmers feeling bemused and more than a little frustrated.

“It’s such a non-commonsense idea that you can keep dust within a property line when the wind blows,” said Sen. Charles Grassley, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee who still farms in northeast Iowa.

Under rules imposed in 2006, rural areas would be kept to the same standards as urban areas for what the Environmental Protection Agency calls “coarse particulate matter” in the air.

Why regulate farm dust?  As the American Farm Bureau Federation rightly points out, no one has ever proved that farm dust represents a health threat to any community.  The EPA had held off from enforcing the regulation in rural areas absent such a finding.  Now they want to impose the rule absent studies showing no harm, in effect telling the ag sector to prove a negative.

Now, farmers will be held accountable when their dust moves outside of their property lines and towards towns and villages.  That will impose extra cost on them depending on which way the wind blows, an excellent metaphor for Congress but a deadly imposition on a farm sector already struggling with an economic turndown and falling land prices.  The compliance costs to keep dust tamped down will be enormous, and will force out the smaller farmers who can least afford the mitigation costs.  It pushes the productive family farm even further into the anachronism category.

Not only that, but it will encourage more use of fresh water on farms, eating into another natural resource.  The best and cheapest way for farmers to keep dust in check is to overwater their fields and dirt roads.  The threat of EPA fines will almost certainly create a significant and needless use of water, which will create shortages in some areas.  Where water rationing already exists, it will press smaller farmers out of business in that way as well.

The key to regulation, and especially environmental regulation, is balance.  We need a strong agricultural sector to produce food as inexpensively as possible with maximum efficiency to keep us fed and healthy.  Dust may provide some health risks, but nothing as acute as poverty and starvation, which existed in much more significant scale in the US before the Green Revolution of the 20th century.  The EPA will eventually send us back to those days and our children back to hunger if some grown-ups don’t take charge.

Grits4life Grits4life
46-50, F
4 Responses Mar 2, 2009

Bush started it...obama is setting daily records and is hellbent on destroying economy completely.

obama depression... it was created by bush.

Max...nobody said you had to come in here and read her postings. If you don't like it, hang out somewhere else. Grits knows that most people are clueless and the media is biased and would never report this stuff. By sharing it, she is educating the ignorant masses.<br />
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You must have had a bad day today...normally you are quite fun. I don't blame you for the sour mood, the obama depression is depressng everyone.

I think you're missing why they're interested in regulating dust from farms. Farms that produce dust do so because of short term farming techniques that ultimately make the earth unuseable for farming by turning it into desert. Also large dust particulate is pretty directly linked to asthma and other lung problems.