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Government Legislation and Impact on Agriculture

Recently I have been pondering how government legislation and regulation has impacted and will continue to impact production agriculture. It seems as though every day a new regulation, permit or fee is proposed at the state and federal level without proper insight, and understanding. It is well past time to put on the breaks and take a serious look at the role of government and its relationship with the individuals of this great country.

The role of government is to create equal opportunity for individuals to be successful, NOT create equal outcomes. Individuals and businesses should be rewarded for their individual effort, sweat, blood and tears. There will be those that succeed and those that fail, that is a fact of life. Those that are successful should not be penalized nor forced to aid those who are less fortunate. Individuals and businesses that have clear objectives, plan their work and then work their plan, tend to see successful outcomes. However, over the past 15 years or so we have seen a growing trend of the government, both state and federal, to change the rules and regulate production and management so as to try and ensure equal outcomes. This is wrong!

The individuals that are behind regulatory legislation and policy often may have book knowledge, but rarely have practical, commonsense, and production wisdom. They lack the insight to how regulations will actually impact individuals and businesses. Often, legislation and regulation is proposed and passed to achieve personal agendas, from narrow minded, self centered, egotists, focused on reshaping the face of American Agriculture and rural America to meet their own needs. Yes, the HSUS, PETA, Greenpeace and Earth First come to mind.

Without a major change in the current legislative and regulatory trend, OUR country faces some serious trouble. Increased regulatory burden on agricultural production will result in decreased domestic production with increased imports and decreased wildlife habitat with increased urban development. Production agriculture in the United States operates under the strictest regulations in the world and provides the people with the safest food. Do consumers really want to place their trust in food safety in a foreign country like Mexico or China? Additionally, American farmers and ranchers are in many cases the only real defense wildlife has between natural habitat and continuing urban sprawl. Where is the logic in imposing more regulations and fees on farmers and ranchers that are already voluntarily improving the environment, yet result in more ag land being sold off due to economic and regulatory hardship?

Regulations passed by state and federal governments should follow these principles:

1. Recognition of private property rights as the foundation for resource production;

2. Regulations are based on sound science which has been subject to replication and peer review;

3. A risk assessment analysis should be conducted prior to the promulgation of regulation;

4. An estimate of the costs and benefits associated with public and private sector compliance with the regulation must be conducted;

5. Regulations should allow for flexibility of rules and regulations to fit varying conditions;

6. Regulations should be subject to independent analysis and public review;

7. Alternatives to regulations must be considered, especially the provision of market-based incentives;

8. Regulations respect the practicalities of doing business in the industry being regulated;

9. The presumption of innocence as opposed to the current presumption of guilt should be strengthened;

10. Adoption of tools that measure the cumulative impact of regulations affecting production agriculture;

11. Measurement of cumulative impacts should be completed prior to regulation implementation.

Today it is common for legislation and regulations to be passed with a focus on one specie, or one issue, with blinders on, and results in negative impacts that could easily have been avoided if only cumulative impacts had been properly assessed. It’s time to put the brakes on and stop passing and implementing new legislation and regulations. Take a close look at those already in existence. What works and what does not? Eliminate those that are detrimental and negatively impacting production agriculture. Learn from the mistakes and follow the eleven principles before enacting more.

Regulations and legislation should start at the grass roots, local level, involving those that have the practical knowledge. Our forefathers created a constitution that limited the power of the federal government and empowered the people for a reason.

The government needs to STOP trying to ensure equal outcomes and get back to the basics. STOP enabling an already welfare dependant society. Put America first and guarantee the equal opportunity for individuals to succeed or fail based on their individual merits. Failure is healthy. The wise will learn from their mistakes and push on.

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