Although rumors are circulating that refer to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempt to regulate farm dust as a myth, a hearing hosted by Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power cleared up what many call profound misconceptions.

Testifying on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association was Steve Foglesong, immediate past president of the organization and a rancher from Astoria, Ill. Foglesong said ranchers are pleased EPA has decided not to propose to lower the standard for coarse particulate matter (dust) this year but the issue is far from resolved.

He said EPA does not have a consistent track record of doing what it proposes.

In fact, in 1996 EPA proposed to remove the dust standard altogether, only to bring it back in the final rule. In 2006, EPA proposed to exempt farm dust. That exemption also disappeared in the final rule. 

Foglesong said even if EPA retains the current dust standard, the opportunity remains for the agency to tighten it in the future. Unless Congress passes the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, he said that threat remains. Chairman Whitfield said family farmers and ranchers need flexible, science-based regulations, rather than an EPA guessing game. 

“EPA’s unprecedented wave of stringent and inflexible regulations pose a serious threat to the economy,” said Whitfield. “Now, this overly aggressive EPA has discussed focusing their efforts on family farms under the guise of revising the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter.