WASHINGTON – A letter was sent by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to first-term US Representative Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) on Feb. 17 in support of her amendment to H.R. 1 – a resolution to fund the federal government through the end of this fiscal year. Noem’s amendment would block any funds from being used by the Environmental Protection Agency to modify the national primary ambient air quality standard or the national secondary ambient air quality standard applicable to coarse particulate matter (dust).

Last summer, EPA laid the foundation to regulate dust at the unprecedented level of 65-85 ug/m3, which is essentially twice as stringent as the current standard, said Bill Donald, NCBA president. He added if EPA moves forward with a proposed rule later this year, vast rural and agricultural areas of the West and Midwest would be put into nonattainment and farmers and ranchers could be fined for everyday activities ranging from tilling soil, moving cattle, driving on unpaved roads or planting and harvesting crops.

“Regulating dust at such unprecedented levels throws all common sense out of the window,” Donald said. “Even with the use of best-management practices, many farmers and ranchers have a difficult time meeting current standards. It would be virtually impossible for farmers and ranchers throughout the Midwest and West to continue operating if EPA moves forward with its plan to regulate dust at a level twice as stringent.

“Representative Noem understands our industry and our way of life,” he added. “She is a rancher herself and knows that in our business, dust is inevitable. We urge all members of the House of Representatives to support her amendment to stop EPA from regulating farmers and ranchers out of business.”

The letter states NCBA recently commissioned a study to determine the number of areas across the country that would be adversely affected by a revised standard. The study concluded the number of areas that would fall into nonattainment goes up by almost 250% if the standard is lowered from the current standard of 150 µg/m3with a 99thpercentile form to a level of 65 µg/m3with a 98th percentile form.

“EPA’s efforts to regulate dust just don’t make sense,” Donald said. “Rural dust has long been found to be of no health concern at ambient levels. Cattle producers across the country thank Representative Noem for her commonsense amendment to stop EPA from moving forward to stop this job-killing regulation that would have detrimental effects on farmers and ranchers nationwide.”