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Published June 25, 2012, 08:50 AM

Regulating farms out of business

The Obama administration is no friend of farmers, and the recent stunt involving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sending spy planes over Nebraska to keep an eye on where cows drop their patties is the latest example of overreach by an administration that is bent on controlling every aspect of our lives, but farming in particular.

By: Susan Stamper Brown, Agweek

The Obama administration is no friend of farmers, and the recent stunt involving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sending spy planes over Nebraska to keep an eye on where cows drop their patties is the latest example of overreach by an administration that is bent on controlling every aspect of our lives, but farming in particular.

According to the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality has been overseeing the health of Nebraska’s waters for more than 30 years, and its director, Mike Linder, says he’s not sure why the flyovers are taking place. Why let the states do for themselves what our all-knowing, all-seeing government can do for them?

At an agricultural conference in November, keynote speaker and environmental attorney Harriet Hageman, warned “The EPA is one of the most insidious organizations in the U.S.” and is “a prime example of regulation without representation.”

Farmers and ranchers have similar concerns about the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

During a bus tour across rural America last summer, Obama was confronted time and again by ranchers and farmers concerned that unsubstantiated regulation was regulating them out of business. According to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, proposed USDA regula-

tions “would cost 114,000 jobs nationwide and increase retail meat prices more than 3 percent.” A statistic likely lost on a president whose discriminating palate includes $100 steaks.

Certainly no one can forget USDA’s attempt to impose a Christmas tree “tax” (fee) to “improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.” Bah, humbug.

Last fall, the U.S. Department of Labor attempted to regulate the relationship shared between parents and their kids on family farms. According to Politico, the proposed rule would have prohibited those younger than 16 from manual labor such as stall cleaning using a shovel and using a battery-operated screwdriver. When I was a kid, that type of manual labor was called Saturday morning chores. The bill also limited exposure to sunlight based upon wind speed and humidity as well as participation in 4-H clubs.

Last but not least, the Department of Transportation proposed a rule that would reclassify all farm vehicles as commercial motor vehicles meaning anyone driving a tractor or operating certain farm equipment would require a commercial driver’s license. Never mind the fact that many farm workers are migrant workers who do not qualify for drivers’ licenses, let alone commercial drivers’ licenses.

Admittedly, farmers have their hands dirty in this corner they find themselves backed into. Farming subsidies almost invite the government to meddle in an industry it plays such a big role in propping up. But farms are not just part of the fabric of this country; American farms provide much-needed food aid to the third world. When you apply bureaucratic pressure to any industry, you run the risk of driving those same workers out of the industry.

Government control of the farming industry is illustrative of the Obama administration which operates more like a dictatorship than a representative democracy. Whether it’s farming, healthcare, the auto industry or energy production, there is no amount of government intervention and overreach that can replace good, old-fashioned American ingenuity and hard work.

Editor’s Note: Stamper Brown, a syndicated columnist, writes about politics, the military and the economy. This column originally appeared in the Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer, part of Forum Communications, which owns Agweek.

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