Guest Editorial: EPA Continues Tide of Covert Propaganda

Published on Mon, 05/09/2016 - 2:02pm

In April, cattle producers stormed Capitol Hill during the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's Legislative Conference, in part to get to the bottom of why federal grant money from the EPA ended up paying for a public relations campaign against livestock producers. The campaign included a number of billboards, bus placards in Washington State, and a website that allowed the public to lobby their state legislators to increase regulation of agriculture. Instead of funding efforts that disparage agriculture, EPA should be working collaboratively with all stakeholders to encourage conservation.

America's farmers and ranchers have a strong history of land stewardship. My family has worked the land for generations, each improving and passing it on better than before. We have increased our productivity and improved the condition of our grass and crop lands, all while producing the best beef in the world. The EPA needs to look at models like the NRCS that work with producers to improve the environment and productivity, which go hand in hand, productive lands are healthy lands. EPA could take a lesson from NRCS in their outlook. We do not need new rules from EPA and we certainly do not need EPA using taxpayer dollars to lobby and subvert public opinion against farmers and ranchers.

That is why NCBA supports the efforts of Representatives Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) and Brad Ashford (R-Neb.) and Senators James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) calling for a formal investigation into this campaign and related activities. We need an investigation to get to the bottom of why federal grant money ended up funding a campaign to lobby the public and state legislators. Moreover, in a broad showing of support the Newhouse letter garnered the signatures of 145 Members of the House of Representatives.

What concerns me most is what appears to be a trend by the EPA to operate outside the law in support of their regulatory agenda. Despite the Government Accountability Office finding the EPA's use of social media to generate public comments in favor of the WOTUS rule was in violation of the law, EPA continues to engage in activities that subvert and co-opt true grassroots input.

Even the EPA has tacitly acknowledged their error here. An EPA official conceded that the federal funding of the billboard campaign is probably a violation of law. While EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy stated during a recent Senate hearing that she does not agree with the aggressive tone that was taken toward farmers on the billboard and is currently working to make sure another mistake like that doesn't occur in the future, more must be done to change the culture at EPA that allows these actions to take place. NCBA awaits EPA's next steps to fix this mistake.

Tracy Brunner is the NCBA President and 4th generation on his family operation located in Ramona, Kansas. He has served as president of his family corporation since its inception in 1988. Tracy manages the feedyard and the yearling grazing operation. He also oversees the cattle and grain marketing decisions, commodity risk management, customer relations, and financial reports. Tracy's family also operates a seed stock enterprise raising bulls and replacement heifers for many ranchers throughout the U.S.