by House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Glenn “GT” Thompson
The global food supply is in crisis, and the worst is yet to come. The world’s most vulnerable communities are feeling the devastation of geopolitical strife, historic levels of inflation, and the lingering impacts of the pandemic. Unfortunately, President Joe Biden’s federal regulatory barriers and policies are worsening these crises by creating uncertainty for the farmers and ranchers responsible for feeding the world.
Recently, at the behest of the White House, Congressional Democrats furthered President Biden’s talking points by forcing through the so-called Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act, a legislative package that falls woefully short in addressing the ongoing supply chain and inflationary crises hammering America’s farm families and consumers.
To actually provide relief, Republicans forged ahead and developed solutions. Last Monday, Leader McCarthy and I, along with nearly 100 of our Republican colleagues, sent a letter to President Biden, outlining multiple administrative actions he could take immediately to mitigate rising input costs, ease regulatory burdens, and strengthen the role American agriculture plays in global food stability.
One of the most egregious regulatory burdens is Waters of the United States, or WOTUS, which has created a great deal of uncertainty for farmers, ranchers, and landowners. The law is vague in defining what constitutes a federal waterway, noting only that they are “navigable,” resulting in nationwide, egregious land grabs. In 2020, this was largely resolved with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, but the Biden Administration revoked that progress last year, plunging producers into a regulatory red tape nightmare.
Additionally, EPA abruptly eliminated necessary crop protection tools producers need to combat pests and disease and improve soil health. These decisions were not made according to science but driven by politics. Unfortunately, the overreach has expanded to new agencies with the recently proposed Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) 510 page climate rule that would require extensive and complicated paperwork that would only increase costs, regulatory compliance, and risk for producers.
The Biden administration continually celebrates record farm income but conveniently ignores the fact that production costs are out of control. Food prices are rising, and farmers are struggling to keep up with the global demand for food because of skyrocketing input costs, like fertilizer. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium specifically increased 125 percent in cost from January 2021 to 2022, and another 17 percent just from January to March of this year. As if that weren’t bad enough, energy costs have reached record highs as well, with the cost of diesel up 115 percent and natural gas up 202 percent, sending a rippling effect throughout the entire food supply chain. This energy crisis will only be further exacerbated so long as President Biden continues to axe U.S. pipeline projects and stymie our energy production potential.
Compounding these challenges to the daily operations of a farm, the Biden administration proposed a massive new tax liability on America’s farm families that would imperil their long-term viability. This burden would be devastating to America’s next generation of farmers and ranchers. They might survive inflation, regulatory restrictions, and the loss of critical tools, only to discover they cannot evade the taxman.
As President Biden continues to tout his tone-deaf agenda, Republicans’ H.R. 8069, the Reducing Farm Input Costs and Barriers to Domestic Production Act seeks to provide the certainty farm families expect from Washington. This legislation provides relief from EPA’s unprecedented actions related to crop protection tools, offers clarity related to WOTUS regulations, rescinds the SEC’s harmful proposed rule on climate-related disclosures, and more.
Step one in tackling our food crisis is addressing the needs of American farmers, ranchers, producers, and agribusiness owners. Let’s start by lowering regulatory burdens to unleash their production potential.
Republican Glenn Thompson represents Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District and is Republican Leader of the House Agriculture Committee.