The EPA celebrates 50 years and has it sights on the future of farming

A golden anniversary for the EPA, but the agency is not celebrating the past. Instead, it is working with farmers as it outlines a plan for future generations.

The Environmental Protection Agency is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and Administrator Andrew Wheeler is focusing on ways to improve the agency for the future.

Wheeler states, “Currently, one of the biggest challenges facing EPA has been our efforts to tear down the silos between programs within the agency to be more effective in addressing the environmental burdens that communities face.”

For agriculture, he hopes to improve transparency for the pesticide program. “We do a good job approving pesticides on an individual basis, but we have not excelled in explaining to the public our holistic approach to pesticide management,” he notes. “The media and the courts tend to view our individual pesticide decisions in a one-off fashion, which has left the American public uniformed on our science-based process.”

Decreasing regulations and advancing innovation is another goal. “We will take into account biotech advances and better examinations of new active ingredients. Just this week, we announced a proposed rule that would remove onerous and expensive regulation of gene-edited plant protectants,” he explains. “We will safeguard pollinators to support the agriculture industry.”

Streamlining NEPA permits will also benefit farmers and ranchers in western states, who balance federal grazing and endangered species conservation.

According to Wheeler, “We helped President Trump successfully implement the new NEPA regulations with the goal of reviewing federal permits within two years. Because of this, new permit bottlenecks will be at state level agencies, implementing federal programs.”

He also highlighted other environmental victories: “During the first three years of the Trump administration, air pollution in this country fell 7 percent... and agency programs have contributed more than $40 billion dollars to clean water infrastructure investment during President Trump’s first term.”

Other agency changes include reorganizing regional offices, implementing a lean management system for tracking success, and adding more than 10 thousand guidance documents into a searchable, public database.

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