If Republicans take back Congress after the midterm elections, lawmakers intend to “aggressively” probe and rein in the federal regulatory “overreach” targeting farmers and ranchers in the United States, according to farmer and U.S. Congressman John Rose (R-Tenn.).
Blasting controversial federal policies aimed at the agriculture community and similar programs around the world as a “formula for famine,” Rose said lawmakers on both sides of the aisle understand that food production must be protected.
“We have to take stock of the fact that we can’t implement policies that will lead to shortages of something as important as food,” Rose told The Epoch Times. “Food shortages are already a very real threat—we should not be making it worse.”
The congressman, who served as secretary of agriculture for Tennessee and owns a farm that has been in his family for well over two centuries, said lawmakers were already planning efforts to provide oversight of the Biden administration’s actions when Republicans take charge.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Epoch Times, Rose pointed to a number of environmental policies that he said were deeply disruptive to agricultural production and were wreaking havoc on the food supply. He said they must be stopped to ensure food security.
“We will gain a majority in both houses and, beginning on Jan. 3, we will see a decidedly focused effort to conduct appropriate oversight of the Biden administration and various regulators, including in financial services,” Rose said. “We will have strident, forceful oversight.”
Among the key focuses, he said, will be “shining a light on what they are doing and how they are overstepping their authorization and going beyond what Congress intended.”
Next will be “taking steps to rein them back in and get these agencies back in their lanes,” he added.
To do that, the GOP Congress will pursue legislation “in hopes of being able to persuade and pressure the president to stop these agencies from intentionally harming the American economy,” Rose said.
“We’ll also have leverage around government funding where we might be able to bring pressure to bear to limit these regulatory agencies to what’s appropriate,” he added.
“You will see aggressive moves on all these fronts,” Rose said. “Ultimately, tremendous pressure will be brought to bear.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is expected to become House Speaker if and when the GOP retakes control of the House of Representatives, has also indicated that Republican lawmakers are preparing to unleash wide-ranging oversight investigations into the Biden administration’s activities.
Numerous GOP leaders have said that regulatory attacks on key industries such as energy will be a major priority for the new Congress, assuming Republicans retake one or both Houses of Congress.
Ending Efforts to Undermine Agriculture and Energy
Rose has been a leading critic in Congress of policies he views as harmful to agriculture—a sector that, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, provides over $1 trillion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product and employs 20 million people, in addition to feeding America and beyond.
This summer, Rose led a bipartisan group of more than 115 lawmakers in urging Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler not to continue pursuing a regulation that would force farmers and ranchers to track emissions of greenhouse gases.
The regulation, known as Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors, would require publicly traded companies to report a broad range of emissions data. That means farmers and ranchers who supply those companies would have to track the data, too.
Lawmakers and agricultural groups warned that the proposed rule would decimate small and medium-sized farms—and especially family farms—that do not have the resources of large agri-businesses to comply.
“When I became aware of this proposed rule by the SEC and understood what it was going to force on our nation’s farmers, I realized this was a tremendous overreach that had to be stopped,” Rose said.
The SEC, Rose added, has an important congressional mandate for what it is supposed to do.
“But regulating the environment is not one of those duties that Congress has assigned to the SEC,” he explained, calling the proposed regulation unconstitutional as well as a “gross overreach and a distraction from the work the SEC is supposed to be doing.”
“It’s the Securities and Exchange Commission, not the Securities and Environment Commission,” Rose continued, adding that the SEC does not have and should not have the resources or power to create environmental or climate policy.
“If the SEC is tilting at windmills, so to speak, they will not get the work done that they’re supposed to be doing,” he said.
Aside from being a bad idea in the opinion of Rose and other lawmakers, it is also a usurpation of power, the coalition in Congress argued.
In a follow-up letter to SEC Chair Gensler, Rose and almost all Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee highlighted the recent Supreme Court opinion in West Virginia v Environmental Protection Agency.
In that case, the high court slapped down EPA schemes to impose CO2 emissions caps on power plants, ruling that Congress never authorized such expansive power by the agency.
The letter, signed by almost two dozen lawmakers on the House Financial Services Committee, warned that the SEC also lacked any congressional authorization to require emissions disclosures from companies or engage in policymaking on climate.
Slamming the SEC effort as “dangerous” and “unwise,” Rose said it was an attempt to “transform our entire economy” by administrative action from an unelected body.
The effect of these policies could be catastrophic. According to The Farm Bureau, which represents farmers and ranchers nationwide, the SEC rule “could push small and medium-sized farmers out of business and force companies to look for food products outside of the United States, adding additional costs to food and limiting food availability.”
Rose also highlighted his concerns about the impact on producers and the food supply, warning that it would exacerbate food shortages.
The SEC responded to the letters with a brief note acknowledging receipt of the lawmakers’ concerns.
But at least one SEC commissioner, Hester Pierce, has publicly argued that the SEC proposal “steps outside statutory limits” and seeks to “achieve objectives that are not [the SEC’s] to pursue.”
The SEC did not respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times by press time.
Other Attacks on Farmers
It is not just the SEC. Another federal agency that has been undermining agriculture without proper authority to do so is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said Rose.
“We see the Biden administration using regulatory muscle to effectuate this green agenda through overreach,” Rose explained, pointing to the EPA as one of the culprits.
For decades, the agency created by President Richard Nixon via executive order has been seeking to expand federal jurisdiction over water across the nation. The effort involves redefining “Waters of the United States” to be far more extensive than originally understood.
Under the Biden administration, that effort has been resurrected. And if not stopped, farmers would be severely impacted, Rose and others say.
Under federal statutes, the EPA has the statutory authority to regulate pollution discharge in the “navigable waters” of the nation. Traditionally, that was understood as waters that were actually navigable.
But following in the Obama administration’s footsteps, the EPA is once again trying to expand the definition far beyond navigable waters, critics say, to include virtually any body of water that might somehow be merely connected to navigable waters—even if only seasonally.
“The administration has re-introduced a lot of uncertainty around waters of the United States, and this really deters agricultural production and creates a lot of insecurity in the agricultural community,” Rose explained.
Rose said he had dealt with numerous farmers who were being “harassed” by federal authorities based on “regulatory overreach” from the EPA on Waters of the United States during the Obama years.
In a statement provided to The Epoch Times by the EPA in response to questions involving allegations by lawmakers of overreach and undermining agriculture, the agency defended its regulations.
“The rulemaking is based on the familiar regulations in place prior to the 2015 ‘waters of the United States’ rule, with amendments to reflect the agencies’ determination of the statutory limits on the scope of the ‘waters of the United States’ informed by Supreme Court precedent, the best available science, and the agencies’ experience and technical expertise,” the statement said. “The agencies plan to issue the final rule by the end of the year.”
Crop Protection Tools
There are other concerns, too. For instance, Rose said the Biden EPA has also been taking “aggressive steps” to limit crop protection tools, “even suspending access after farmers have purchased supplies.”
“That’s not helpful,” he said.
Other lawmakers have also spoken out on the issue.
In a letter to the EPA in July, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.), ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, as well as the Republican leader of the House Agriculture Committee, U.S. Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Penn.), blasted the agency’s move.
Pointing to the developing food crisis caused by the conflict in Ukraine and the associated shortages, the two lawmakers said U.S. agricultural policy “should be focused on supporting American production instead of creating further burden and ambiguity for our farmers and ranchers.”
Among other requests, they asked the administration and EPA “cease the politicization of critical crop protection tools” and “adhere to a science-based and transparent regulatory process.”
Rose said this was harming agricultural producers and the food supply.
“What you see are farmers having to idle land that should be still in production, but they can’t farm it because they’re being harassed or economically disadvantaged with all these overreaching regulations,” Rose said, noting that many of the bureaucrats writing the rules had never stepped foot on a farm.
“You know, if this was one farmer, it would not be a huge impact,” he continued. “But when we’re dealing with tens of thousands of farms, that has a major impact on food production and our food supply.”
The EPA did not respond to concerns about restrictions on crop protection tools.
Similar tactics are being used by the administration in the energy sector, Rose said. He pointed to regulatory efforts that restrict energy exploration and development. And all of that impacts food production, too.
“We now have a diesel fuel problem that could impact the whole country broadly, and because diesel powers agriculture, this could become a nightmare for food production as well,” Rose added.
Consequences and Global View
Policies undermining agriculture are not limited to the Biden administration. All over the world—from Holland and Canada to Sri Lanka and Africa—similar trends are emerging. Rose said there is “definitely” a link to advocacy by the United Nations.
“Many of the international folks interested in green initiatives,” he said, are working to “tie a hand behind our back” when it comes to farming and ranching.
The Epoch Times has done extensive reporting on the relationship between UN “sustainable development” programs such as the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and governmental policies undermining food production.
Especially in this time of escalating food and energy shortages, Rose said it was critical that policymakers use a “balanced approach” that does not undermine critical industries such as agriculture.
“It doesn’t make sense to have our head in the sand on these issues,” he said. “People have to eat.”
“Everybody’s concerned about the environment, but this religious zeal where they’ve turned green concerns into a mantra to live by is a big mistake,” Rose added.
According to the congressman and other experts, the end result of these types of policies against farmers will be “continuing shortages and deterred production around the world.”
“Maybe that’s what they want,” suggested Rose.
Read more at The Epoch Times here: Congressman: GOP to Rein in War on Farmers, a ‘Formula for Famine’