- EPA regulations may target agriculture and small business.
- Industry needs better awareness of administrative law.
- Water issues will be crucial.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t necessarily have farm interests lined up in its crosshairs, but it’s not exactly ignoring agriculture as a target of opportunity either.
“We’ve had it pretty good in agriculture for a long time,” said Shannon Ferrell, assistant professor at Oklahoma State University, during the recent Rural Economics Outlook Conference on the Stillwater campus. “EPA went after the low-hanging fruit first, the big polluters,” Ferrell said. “Now, they’re going after the rest.”
Are they picking on agriculture? Ferrell says not exactly, although some programs, such as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO), may be priorities. “Everyone is subject to pressure,” he said. “A lot of small businesses are getting squeezed by environmental regulations” that have already hit big business.
He said when the industry asks if “they are coming after us,” we have to determine: “Who are they and who is us?” “They” could be the EPA, the federal government or interest groups, he said. And “we” may be hard to identify. “We talk about ag as one unified front, but from the outside we look different.” He said outsiders see divisions within the ag industry—livestock versus grain, for instance.