Farmers, industry reps meet with Rep. Boustany

News Release Distributed 09/19/11

CROWLEY, La. – Farmers and agriculture industry representatives met Friday (Sept. 16) with Congressman Charles Boustany to express frustration with the increased burden of more federal regulations.

Boustany said a bill is pending in the House that would roll back many of the regulations coming from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Sam Phillips, of the state Department of Environmental Quality, said new water quality standards being imposed by the EPA can be handled on the state level with few effects on farmers, and voluntary measures can be used by farmers to prevent EPA from enforcing the requirements.

Phillips also said the LSU AgCenter has been working on guidelines to help farmers comply with a requirement to make improvements to prevent fuel spills from storage tanks.

The four-page brochure has been printed to help farmers meet the EPA requirements with several low-cost solutions for dealing with the regulations, said Ernest Girouard, LSU AgCenter director of the Louisiana Master Farmer Program. The material resulted from a cooperative endeavor among several state agencies.

DEQ will focus on industrial fuel tanks, Phillips said. “We don’t go on farms because that’s not where the problems are.”

The LSU AgCenter is essential for agriculture interests in the state, said Bobby Simoneaux of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. “A lot of our job we could not do without the help of the LSU AgCenter.”

EPA’s role in controlling water quality in the Chesapeake Bay has damaged that area’s economic future, said Don Parrish of the American Farm Bureau. “They are cutting economic growth in half.”

Water quality in the Mermentau River could be improved if water from the Atchafalaya Basin could be used to increase the flow, said Jefferson Davis Parish farmer Kevin Berken.

Water diversion would be a way of improving water quality to comply with more restrictive federal water quality standards, Phillips added.

Berken’s brother, Clarence, also of Jefferson Davis Parish, said farmland in the southern part of the parish was damaged by saltwater from the Gulf. He said water diverted from the Atchafalaya Basin into Bayou Vermilion has helped farmers in Vermilion Parish with encroaching saltwater.

Mike Strain, LDAF secretary, said he is trying to get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work on a diversion program but he has run into “first encounters of a bureaucratic kind.”

Bruce Schultz

9/19/2011 7:44:19 PM
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