Friday, September 02, 2011

Farm-dust regulation and other myths debunked

We keep hearing talk from people who should know better (such as U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green, Ky., with Mandy Connell on Louisville's WHAS Radio last Friday) that the Environmental Protection Agency may, or plans to, regulate farm dust.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack wrote in the USDA Blog two weeks ago that EPA knows "you can't farm without dust." He explained, "This is another frequently repeated myth based on a congressionally mandated review that the EPA has conducted every five years for decades." EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said months ago that her agency has no plans to regulate farm dust.

Skeptical of two self-serving Obama Cabinet officials? How about Daryll Ray and Harwood Schaffer, the director and research assistant professor at the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center at the University of Tennessee? They debunked the myth (and two others we won't honor with a mention here) on their Ag Policy blog last week, saying the tales had become "a distraction from the discussion of the substantial issues facing agriculture."

They concluded, "While we are not willing to speculate on the motivation of those who circulate these stories, we do hope that those who hear them will use at least one of the many websites that track down their truthfulness." (Read more) Unfortunately, there appear to be many more websites that jump to conclusions or make unjustified extrapolations about this topic; for example, an EPA effort to regulate particulates in a county that has many farms does not mean farms will be subject to regulation.

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