Dust Bill Passes House, Headed to Senate

Reaction is mixed with supporters applauding and opponents continuing to say measure is unnecessary.

Published on: Dec 9, 2011

By a vote of 268 to 150, the U.S. House has passed the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 20ll.  Written by Representative Kristi Noem, R-S.D, the act, H.R. 1633, would prohibit EPA from placing regulations on farm dust.  Noem says this is a huge win for farmers and ranchers and that the regulation of farm dust is not a partisan issue; it is a rural issue.

National Cattlemen's Beef Association President Bill Donald called Thursday's vote a win for regulatory certainty for cattlemen and women.

"We saw legislation as the only option to give all ranchers across the country any sort of peace of mind," Donald said. "Cattlemen and women worried about being fined for moving cattle, tilling a field or even driving down a dirt road should rest assured knowing that will not be allowed to happen on our watch."

NCBA Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley Lyon says the legislation recognizes that dust from agricultural activities has never been shown to have an adverse health impact at ambient levels. The legislation now moves to the Senate, where it was introduced by Senators Mike Johanns, R-Neb. and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa and has support from 26 bipartisan senators.   

Johanns applauded the news that the House of Representatives had passed the bill and says the legislation would provide legal certainty to farmers and ranchers. EPA's pledge to not regulate farm dust was important, but a valid argument has been made that it does not prevent future Administrations from doing so. The House bill puts this issue to rest for good. Johanns hopes they can build on the House's bipartisan support and pass his legislation in the Senate to ensure avoiding this dust-up in the future.

Johanns' legislation would enable EPA to consider the source of particulate matter while prohibiting the agency from regulating farm dust. After Johanns introduced his legislation, EPA announced it would not be revising its regulation on coarse particulate matter. However, Johanns also indicated that the flaw in the current law allowing EPA to consider onerous regulations of farm dust must be addressed to give farmers and ranchers long-term certainty. 

Meanwhile, the National Farmers Union believes the Dust Regulation Prevention Act is unnecessary. NFU President Roger Johnson says it is a meaningless, unnecessary bill. He says that misinformation regarding potential dust regulation continues to spread across the country, creating unnecessary concern for farmers and ranchers. Congress should stop politicizing this issue and move on to passing meaningful legislation to help farmers, ranchers and rural communities.