Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Farming and Environmental Regulations by Regi Ellis

Farming and Environmental Regulations
Regi Ellis
Environmental Studies PHS 100A
Warner Pacific College
June 14, 20011

Gone are the days when a family of farmers will pass on their legacy to their children and their children’s children and so on. Environmental regulations have strained the workings of Agribusiness and the different productions of these farms. Agribusiness covers the wide spectrum of farm production from animals to produce and every sector has regulations of some magnitude put into place. Regulations for safety, not only for the public as far as ingesting such products; but also for work safety on the farms themselves. The EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, the NRDC, Natural Resources Defense Council, and OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, not to mention the U.S. Department of Agriculture all work together to ensure safety of the workers on the farms, safety for the people buying the products and safety for the environment as the farmer works the lands growing his crops and breeding and butchering his cattle for sale.
On the outside looking in this sounds like a well established system with no kinks. The public is safe, the environment is safe. However, when a magnifying glass is taken in hand we see things that the normal eye does not see. The fact that the Environmental Protection Agency has imposed so many regulations on the farmers in California has them bringing their testimonies to Congress in hopes of some relief. Some of the testimony given by Tom Nassif, the president of the Western Growers Association, said “the resulting regulatory requirements are often inflexible and impractical.” Nassif also said that the regulatory conditions are “creating an environment that is stifling job creation, and economic opportunity.” Because of this, a majority of the farmers need to seek outside income as well as farming income, which puts an added strain on their families. Some are moving their production off-shore, and still others are getting out altogether. Smaller firms, according to the report, are bearing regulatory costs of 10,585 per employee, whereas bigger firms with 500 or more employees have costs of 7,755 per employee.
The report to Congress also states that reports or data found by the Environmental Protection Agency sometimes lack public data review, and are done without scientific confirmation and experience, and also without stakeholder involvement. This leads this writer to think that they want to get something by quickly as to not open too many Pandora boxes. Good or bad information is better than no information at all.
The president of the Growers-Shippers Association of Central California said “the EPA often seeks to protect the environment without considering the economic ramifications.” When stern and high priced regulations go into effect, businesses and Agribusiness men need to absorb those costs by passing it on to the consumer. Also by enforcing more rules and regulations, it is this writer’s opinion, that new machinery and expensive procedures go into effect only to drag the farmer under a cloud of expenditures that can never be paid back, or take away their ambition altogether.
The environmental agencies that regulate farm and its production should take a good hard look at what is at stake. On the other hand, does society allow the farmer to continue to pollute our streams, rivers and water tables just to ensure economic growth and prosperiety? Or do we investigate further into the real farming regulation makers. In a 2008 production of Food Inc. film maker Robert Kenner sheds a light on corporate farming in the United States. The corporate farmer has another set of rules and regulations they have to abide by or they don’t have jobs. Needless to say where is the Environmental Protection Agency now? How come the National Resources Defense Council or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or even the U.S. Department of Agriculture have not stepped in and made their demands clear? Why is big corporation getting away with insisting that these farmers use the pesticides that poison our water, and breed cattle by the thousands with no real humane way to butcher them and make sure all is done in a sanitized area and methods in place and implemented so that food is not contaminated? Big corporate farming is where the problem lies. The little farmer with his run offs and cleans up that need to happen, is not being forced to grow produce bigger and faster and hardier by use of pesticides and herbicides, they are not being forced to breed and raise cattle faster and bigger than the next farming corporation for a good price at market, disregarding all ethics in the mean time.
Environmental Agencies do affect our farmers and the economic societal life of our population, but are they making the changes that should be made? Our Nations farms are no longer the mom and pop farmers of the past, they are industry, and industry should be monitored. Industry should be monitored by the agencies that can make sure the standards of food and water are safe for the population, and try to do so with improving our Nations economic backbone instead of breaking it.

Natural Resources Defense Council. Facts about Pollution. Revised January 13, 2011
Retrieved June 12, 2011 from
Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Agriculture Operations. United States Department of
Labor. Last Reviewed January 22, 2009. Retrieved June 12, 2011 from
Ramstack, T. California Farmers Complain to Congress About Environmental Regulations.
April 19, 2011. All Headline News. Retrieved June 14, 2011 from

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