On Thursday Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, hosted officials from the Environmental Protection Agency in his home state of Iowa. Grassley asked the EPA to come to Iowa for a first-hand look at family farming, after learning that the government official who heads the department writing the guidelines for indirect land use changes has never set foot on an American farm. Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at EPA, and Margo Oge, Director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality at EPA, are the Senator's guests.
The daylong tour, in an area near Des Moines, Iowa, began with an information session to discuss low carbon fuel standards, corn and soybean technology, and EPA's AgSTAR program. The group then moved to a family farm to learn about the work farmers are doing to produce safe, quality products in an environmentally friendly manner. Last, the group visited the Renewable Energy Group's facility in Newton for a tour and an overview and update from the ethanol and biodiesel industries.
In preparing for the day, Senator Grassley said the EPA has tremendous power and authority, and the decisions it makes on several issues will have a major impact on the rural economy, from the family farm to opportunities in value-added agriculture industries, including renewable energy. According to Grassley it is absolutely essential that the government officials in charge understand the issues and the impact of their rules, regulations and directives.