Farmers and businesses are being overregulated at the federal level, Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Republican Pat Roberts (KS) told the Agribusiness Club of Washington. He said overregulation dominates concerns he hears from farmers, who also discussed the farm bill and its budget with him.

Roberts has introduced S. 358, a bill with requirements that include federal agencies proposing or adopting regulations only after a reasoned determination that the benefits justify the costs, tailoring regulations to impose the least burden on society, and maximizing economic and other benefits. The bill has 46 co-sponsors.

"We need to put the brakes on regulatory overkill," Roberts told the Washington representatives for farm and agribusiness organizations. He cited the Environmental Protection Agency's rule on particulate matter, known as the dust rule, as an example of the overregulation. Roberts said he's "making real efforts to address the issue of overregulation" at the federal level.

The nation "could face economic chaos" if no budget action is taken within the next year, the lawmaker said, adding that the only way "to get serious about the debt is to tackle entitlement reform, and that includes the farm bill."

The farm bill debate is more challenging today because of commodity price levels, which not all farmers are receiving, and which are offset by rising energy costs and other factors, he said. "We really have our work cut out for us," he added.

USA Rice Federation is a leader in opposing federal regulatory overreach and calling for the farm-bill budget to be debated within the context of the next farm bill.