Feb. 9, 2024
Source: op-ed by Representative Kat Cammack (FL-03) as distributed by the House Committee on Agriculture--Republicans
Around the world, farmers are waking up to the realities of top-down overregulation, climate extremism and rising input costs. Tractor barricades, piles of manure in front of city buildings, and bales of hay ablaze across the streets of Europe should be a wake-up call for lawmakers in the United States.
As history has shown, from storming the Bastille to the beheading of Marie Antoinette, the French certainly have a penchant for protesting. In recent years these movements have continued, with the streets of France filling up during the yellow vest protests and now roads are blocked by frustrated farmers driving diesel-powered tractors.
While France is the European Union's largest agricultural producer, the economic plight and anger of European farmers isn't limited to France; they are protesting or planning such in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and Spain.
Farmers' main beef stems from the EU's nature restoration law, which sets legally binding "Green New Deal" style targets for member states to restore at least 20% of the EU's land and sea areas by 2030. This includes an obligation for 4% of EU farmland to lie fallow or remain out of productive use.
Taking prime agricultural land out of productive use not only flies in the face of logic as Europe grapples with rising food prices and competition from cheap food imports but discounts the incredible work the agriculture industry does for our global environment.
Indeed, farmers and ranchers are the world's original conservationists. They don't need unelected, big-government bureaucrats telling them how to do their jobs.
As discontentment spreads across Europe, American lawmakers should heed the warning signs. In many cases, if the Biden administration continues to get its way, similarly disastrous policies will continue to inflict pain on our famers and domestic food supply.
Since the first day of President Biden's term, America's farmers, ranchers and producers have come under constant attack, through burdensome regulations, exacerbated by record inflation, high input costs, the politicization of crop protection tools, anti-energy initiatives, supply chain disruptions and labor shortages.
Within hours of taking the oath of office, Biden shut down the Keystone XL pipeline, issued a drilling moratorium on federal lands and waters, and similarly instituted Green New Deal-style regulations like the so-called "30x30" initiative that seeks to conserve at least 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.
Just recently, the Biden administration paused liquified natural gas exports, adding even more uncertainty to this necessary market.
Agriculture relies heavily on energy production, and these disastrous anti-American energy policies directly impact the farmers who feed and fuel our country.
It's not just energy. America's farmers, ranchers and landowners have come under regulatory assault on other fronts.
The Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule plunged rural communities into ambiguity and would cut off farmers' access to their own land.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has similarly sought to limit pesticides needed to protect crops from damaging pests and diseases, increase yields while using fewer inputs, and implement critical conservation practices.
Recent proposals related to crop protection tools could force producers to spend billions on costly mitigation measures to use pesticides or even prevent some producers from using these tools altogether.
The Biden administration also plans to tighten meat and poultry products effluent guidelines and national air quality standards, both of which are nearly impossible to comply with, likely to put U.S. industry out of production and pushing even more jobs overseas.
As farmers across Europe take to the streets to fight radical environmental policies, inflation and overregulation, America sits in a similarly precarious position. Since the last farm bill was passed in 2018, our hardworking producers have faced similar challenges much like those in France, Germany and other EU countries.
Make no mistake, the impact of these policies aren't just hitting producers, they're hitting the wallets of every American consumer. An Axios survey from December 2023 found nearly 72% of Americans said they think inflation was the worst at the grocery store, and nearly 60% feel "angry" about prices and "anxious" whenever they shop for groceries because of the impact it has on their budget.
In 2020, the Agriculture Department's Economic Research Service released a brief - titled, "Economic and Food Security Impacts of Agricultural Input Reduction Under the European Union Green Deal's Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies" - which found that with global adoption of the EU's Farm to Fork Strategy, worldwide food prices would increase 89% by 2030.
Lawmakers in America have a choice: continue down this ruinous path of demonizing the agriculture industry - the very people who feed, fuel and clothe our nation - or embrace them as the unsung heroes to our country they truly are. After all, food security is national security. It's well past time Congress reflects that.