The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today, June 15, 2012, proposed its long awaited dust standard that sparked controversy within the agricultural community. The controversy arose when EPA staff announced the administrator would be “justified” in doubling the stringency of the current, so-called dust standard, officially known as the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for coarse particulate matter. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) welcomed news from EPA that it plans to retain the current standard, however; the issue involving farm dust is far from over, according to NCBA Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley McDonald.

 “We learned from the last two reviews of this standard that a final standard can look very different that the proposal. It is important to note that EPA’s action today is simply a proposal from the agency and not the final standard,” said McDonald.

The final standard is scheduled to be released by EPA in December of this year. McDonald said NCBA encourages EPA to stick with the proposed standard and not lower the final standard. She said lowering the standard would throw a large section of the country into nonattainment.

McDonald said cattlemen are really in search of certainty when it comes to rules and regulations being promulgated by EPA and other agencies. This is why NCBA fully supports the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act introduced by Senator Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-S.D.). The legislation would provide permanent relief and regulatory certainty by exempting the agricultural community from EPA dust regulations. The legislation has passed the U.S. House of Representatives, but the Senate version (S. 1528) has not been brought up for a vote.

“The fact is, farmers and ranchers want and need certainty about this issue. Regulatory uncertainty is unnecessary and unproductive,” said McDonald. “If EPA follows through and does not revise the dust standard, such an action would only provide us with certainty for five years and provides no relief to those producers who are spending more than $1,000 per day on dust control measures right now.”

NCBA is pleased with EPA’s plan to retain the current standard, but will continue working with Congress to move towards a more permanent solution.