Trump administration pushes regulatory reform

WASHINGTON D.C. -- The Trump Administration has turned up the heat on regulatory reform. While President Trump already has used executive orders to roll back some of the regulations costly to agriculture, there is more reform on the way.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt outlines the regulatory reform his agency has already achieved. (Michelle Rook/Special to Agweek)

WASHINGTON D.C. - The Trump Administration has turned up the heat on regulatory reform. While President Trump already has used executive orders to roll back some of the regulations costly to agriculture, there is more reform on the way.

In fact, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt says he's trying to restore a back-to-basics agenda at the agency.

"Getting back to the importance of regulating, providing certainty to those in the marketplace, but doing so when we're not putting a thumb on the scales in favor of certain folks," he says. Pruitt says when the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act was passed in the 1970s, the idea was for state and federal governments to work together to make sure there were clear objectives for air and water and achieve good outcomes.

"But there was also this attitude that we can do both to grow jobs, grow our economy and protect our environment," Pruitt says.

EPA is already working on biofuels regulations.


"The RVO targets that are set each year in November, routinely the EPA has missed those targets. That's going to change," Pruitt says. "We're already in process to meet that deadline in November to provide certainty."

Pruitt says they also are reviewing more than 18,000 comments regarding a proposal to move the Point of Obligation in the Renewable Fuels Standard down to the retailer, so a decision on that is coming.

The agency also is analyzing if Pruitt can grant a waiver to allow year-round E15 sales. Currently, the Reid Vapor Pressure rule is keeping E15 fuel from being sold in the summer months.

"There's a statutory analysis that's ongoing and we're hopefully going to conclude that process very soon," Pruitt says. "I very much hope that we can get there. It's just a matter of whether the statute permits it or not."

As far as other regulations, Pruitt says EPA already trimmed the backlog of pesticide registrations from 1,000 down to 500.

"I made it a priority coming in that we needed to get that backlog cleaned out and then make sure that we have certain timelines to get certainty out in the marketplace," he says.

Farm group leaders agree the regulatory climate in Washington, D.C., is shifting away from the costly rules agriculture faced under the Obama administration. As such, they've compiled a whole host of additional rules they want reformed.

"Whether it's regulations at OSHA, whether it's EPA stuff, whether it's transportation stuff, there is a long list," says Daren Coppock, Agricultural Retailers Association CEO.


"The top of our list would still be Waters of the U.S.," says Mary Kay Thatcher, senior director of congressional relations with American Farm Bureau. "We have got to get that thing completely overturned, see if we can get it moving and get the courts to rule one way or another soon."

The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration rules released as the Obama administration left office are a top priority for livestock groups. The U.S. Department of Agriculture delayed the Farmer Fair Practices Rules for six months to examine the impact and take input on changes. The rules would broaden the scope of what USDA can do to create fairness in the marketplace.

"It would open up the floodgates to real costly litigation that would target packers and so there's a risk of packers trying to internalize and own all of their animals," says Michael Formica, domestic affairs and counsel with the National Pork Producers Council. "So, our producers would lose the ability to raise animals for the packers and have that free market."

He adds the GIPSA rules would also impact a producer's ability to strike certain marketing agreements.

Colin Woodall, senior vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, says the GIPSA rules would force packers to pay the same price for all cattle, regardless of value.

"It sets it up for anybody who is disgruntled to file a lawsuit," he says. "The packers have made it very clear that they're going to get a threat of litigation every time they pay for one pen of cattle versus another they're going to go back to commodity pricing."

The GIPSA rules will be just one of many Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will look at as chair of the new Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. Through an executive order, Perdue is charged to focus on areas such as regulatory reform, with a report due in 180 days.

"We're going to do that through fact-based decision making, good sound science," Perdue says.


"They're going to apply a standard of science based analysis to each one of those regulations and determine which ones are actually creating economic activity in rural America versus which ones are holding back economic activity," says Chuck Conner, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives CEO.

However, even with all the agencies working on reform, it may take time to unravel many of the rules.

"Some of those things they can do right away, some of them will be done with Congressional review act just rolling the rule out, but other things that have been in place for a long time. They'll have to go through a rulemaking or even statutory changes to get the kind of fix we need to have done," Coppock says.

EPA is already working on regulatory reform in the areas of biofuels and pesticide approvals. (Michelle Rook/Agweek)

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