We have all heard these words uttered many times and in many situations. The very need for the phrase implies that common sense has a different meaning for everyone.
As we usually discover, common sense to one person does not necessarily constitute common sense to another.
For example, livestock producers and farmers across the country continue to produce the safest and most abundant food supply in the world. It would seem to be common sense that the federal government would encourage and help support them, or at least not burden them unduly.
It would be common sense, right? After all, agriculture is the country’s star performer during the current challenging economic environment. American agriculture excels at supplying us, and millions around the world, with an abundance of safe, wholesome and affordable food.
Instead, it seems that the government looks for new barriers to erect to the world’s most productive and successful food production system. Most of the barriers come in the form of government regulations, either currently in effect or in process. It’s as if the government is saying, “just try to continue being as productive as you have been in the past.”
Sen. Mike Crapo, (R-Idaho), a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works with oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency, is trying to inject some much needed common sense to the excessive federal regulation aimed at agriculture. He is pushing back.
Crapo is a lead proponent of two bills that would provide much-needed support to agriculture: the Superfund Common-Sense Act of 2011 and the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act.
According to Crapo’s website, the EPA is currently weighing options for reinstating a rule that would require large livestock operations to report emissions of manure and poultry litter under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund).
The Superfund Common-Sense Act of 2011 would protect producers from certain liability cases under the CERCLA law as well as ease manure emissions reporting requirements.
The EPA is also reviewing standards for the Clean Air Act concerning the regulation of dust created from farming and ranching operations. In another common sense approach, Crapo is backing The Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act which would prevent the EPA from regulating farm dust in rural areas, while maintaining the law’s current protections to public health.
The Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act was introduced by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) in September and currently has 25 bipartisan cosponsors. The Superfund Common-Sense Act will soon be introduced by Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) with Crapo as an original cosponsor.
The senators expect additional support for their bill in the near future. Both bills have been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
According to Crapo, government regulatory pressure has placed enormous financial pressure on agriculture in recent years. The bills he is backing represent proactive steps to keep farmers and ranchers on the land, as they have been doing for generations. They also represent common sense.
No one is saying that agriculture must be exempt from the continuous improvement that has characterized its 200 + year history in both increased production and improved environmental practices.
But over-reaching federal regulations are like a wet blanket stifling agriculture’s productivity and success at feeding the world. Crapo sums up his support of bills that confront federal over-regulation: “Efforts for a clean and healthy environment must be balanced with common sense.”