Reacting to Washington's Whims Is No Sunday Picnic

Prairie Gleanings

EPA expects farmers to have a petroleum spill plan on file. The only question is when is the enforcement deadline.

Published on: October 27, 2011
When President Obama visited Wyffels Hybrids several months ago, Holly Spangler noted the first question came from farmer Rock Katschnig. In essence, Katschnig voiced his concern about additional regulations hindering the way he does business.

In a very political manner, Obama asked for further clarification on the question. Then he somewhat sidestepped the question by saying Katschnig should work closely with the USDA on this topic.

Well Mr. President, I wanted to revisit this topic because Katschnig is right on the money. Allow me to explain.

Earlier this month, Jean Payne, president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, called and asked if we’d included anything in the November issue about the EPA’s Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Rule. We hadn’t (at that point), so Jean went on to explain the situation.

If you have 1,320 gallons of petroleum/oil products stored on the farm, you need an SPCC plan in place by Nov. 10, 2011. Basically, the plan outlines how you would contain a spill and keep it from reaching waterways. IFCA noted that the requirement had been on file for quite some time, but EPA was going to start enforcing it on Nov. 10.

I quickly penned the article and prepped it for press in the November issue, which should hit mailboxes at the first of the month. Hours before the issue went to press, my copy editor called to say she’d just seen a breaking news item that EPA had pushed back the SPCC plan requirement date to May 10, 2013. It was too late to scrap the entire article and come up with something else, so we made some last minute edits with the new dates.

I was frustrated because it's not exactly timely to write about a regulation that will be enforced a year and a half in the future. However, what was a minor headache for me could have amounted to a terrific waste of time on your end. And right in the middle of harvest!

I agree with Rock Katschnig. I’m terrified of the potential rules and regulations the U.S. government could decide to impose on the American farmer. I’d be curious to know how many times this sort of last-minute regulatory deadline “stuff” happens over the course of one farmer's lifetime.

Last time I checked, most of the farming population isn’t running for office. It’s too bad you have to pay attention to every little thing they do in Washington. If only it were the other way around, perhaps that would eliminate a lot of this. Of course, that makes way too much sense. Forget I ever said that.