|“Northeast Georgia’s poultry and farming communities bring food, jobs and economic growth to our country. These hardworking producers have been unnecessarily burdened by federal policies. I haven’t found a bureaucrat more motivated or more equipped to steward our natural resources than local farmers, and I support the House’s efforts to bring them relief from misguided government red tape,” said Congressman Doug Collins.
Food and agriculture industries support more than 43 million jobs and contribute nearly $7 trillion annually to the U.S. economy. The American cattle industry alone employs more than 800,000 producers. Family farms comprise 99% of all U.S. farms. These farms are remarkably efficient and one acre can produce approximately 3,000 pounds of wheat, 30,000 pounds of pumpkins and nearly 1,000 pounds of cotton. Unfortunately,American farmers and ranchers are struggling as a result of a 50% decline in net farm income over the last four years, the largest decline since the start of the Great Depression. Members of the Western Caucus recognize these challenges and have been leading numerous efforts to provide relief.
The most recent farm bill was signed into law into law in December of 2018. The House passed bill included a healthy crop of Western Caucus priorities.
Western Caucus Floor Amendment Highlights:
- Included the Jim Banks (IN-03) Amendment that repeals WOTUS. More HERE.
- Included the Don Young (AK-At Large) Amendment that exempts Alaska from the 2001 Roadless Rule. More HERE.
- Included the Mike Johnson (LA-04) Amendment that modernized Endangered Species Act habitat requirements. More HERE.
- Included the Doug LaMalfa (CA-01) wireless broadband streamlining Amendment More HERE.
- Included the Liz Cheney (WY-At Large) grazing leases Amendment. More HERE.
- Included the Greg Gianforte (MT-At Large) wildfire salvage operations Amendment.
- Included the Bruce Westerman (AR-04) Balance of Harms & Action/No Action Amendment which requires that the costs of inaction be weighed and also provides injunctive relief.
- Included the Paul Gosar (AZ-04) Good Neighbor Authority for Counties and Tribes Amendment in order to better manage our nation's forests. This provision was signed into law. More HERE.
Members of the Western Caucus have being leading the charge for years to repeal the estate tax, also known as the "Death Tax". The House previously passed the Death Tax Repeal Act, by a vote of 240-179. Mothers and fathers are taxed on their earnings and holdings while they are alive, and they should not have to worry about those holdings being taxed, yet again, when they die and aim to leave their children their belongings. The National Taxpayer Union Foundation estimates that the estate tax "swiped $23.1 billion per year from the wallets of Americans this year." All this unjust tax does is discourage more people from wanting to work in agriculture and retaining their family farm. The Tax Cut and Jobs Act lessened this burden by increasing the estate tax exclusion from $5.49 million to $10.98 million but did not repeal this punitive IRS mandate. Members of the Western Caucus will continue to push for full repeal of the "Death Tax".
Farmers and ranchers are burdened by a significant number of mandates including regulatory requirements associated with the Clean Water Act, the Food Safety Modernization Act, the Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Federal Insecticide Act, amongst others. On April 26, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) titled, “Promoting Agriculture and Prosperity in Rural America.” The EO established an interagency task force and made clear that it is “in the national interest to ensure that regulatory burdens do not unnecessarily encumber agricultural production, harm rural communities, constrain economic growth, hamper job creation or increase the cost of food for Americans and our customers around the world." Members of the Western Caucus have also been leading the charge to reduce unnecessary regulations on the agriculture industry.
Blocking the Obama Administration’s Proposed Child Farm Chore Regulations
The Obama Administration’s Department of Labor (DOL) dramatically attempted to overhaul youth agriculture labor regulations. This nonsensical proposal attempted to implement the most sweeping changes since the 1970s and could have prohibited our nation's youth from participating in 4-H programs and from working or doing basic functions on family farms. This proposed regulation were so unreasonable that they attempted to prevent teenagers from using ladders higher than six feet tall, from performing any task involving pesticides regardless of pesticide toxicity, from operating power-driven equipment and even from bailing hay. After much pressure from members of the Western Caucus and others, DOL announced that it was pulling the proposed rule. This was a victory for commonsense and our country's Ag producers.
The Endangered Species Act Needs to Be Modernized to Protect Ranchers and Farmers
While well-intentioned, the Endangered Species must be modernized to ensure success where it matters most: on-the-ground and outside the courtroom.With a 3% recovery rate over 46 years, the ESA needs to be updated to better protect species, and to treat property owners, states and local stakeholders as partners rather than obstacles. ESA listings, de-listings, and critical habitat decisions impact our animals, our plants, our economy, our public health, our safety and our property rights. Defined recovery goals must be established to ensure species are removed from the list when desired population levels are met. Strengthening the Act should also include requiring actual science that is standardized, transparent and publicly available in order to make better policy decisions. Another key to improving recovery rates for plants and animals is empowering states and affected stakeholders to be part of the solution. The ESA can be modernized to more successfully assist species that are truly in danger. The Caucus has introduced a package to reform this outdated law. To read more about this effort click HERE.
The Obama Administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule would have caused significant harm to rural America, including farmers, ranchers, small businesses, water users and other property owners. This overreaching regulation was a dream killer for future generations that caused significant job losses and considerable harm to our economy. WOTUS expanded agency control over 60% of our country’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands that were previously non-jurisdictional. This flawed mandate directly contradicted prior U.S. Supreme Court decisions, which imposed limits on the extent of federal Clean Water Act. For years, Members of the Western Caucus introduced legislation, inserted funding riders into appropriations bills and passed at least five different measures through the House to block WOTUS. WOTUS was already stayed by the courts for its impressive unconstitutionality. Fortunately, the Trump Administration repealed this overreaching land and water grab in September of 2019. Click HERE
to read more.
One of the biggest issues facing agriculture is water. For those of us in the West, state water laws and the rights they protect are paramount to our economy, our environment and our way of life. Westerners suffer from drought on a constant basis, which is why we invested in water storage and delivery projects that supply water and hydropower in dry times. Attempted water grabs by federal agencies during the Obama Administration were atrocious. From the WOTUS rule, to the Ground Water Service Directive, or even the ski area water rights permitting conditions, the previous Administration attempted an all-out assault to take control of precious water resources that have traditionally been managed by states or private ownership. Members of the Western Caucus put forth a number of efforts to reject these overreaches as well as protect agriculture and our vital water supplies.
The GROW Act
American families, small businesses and farmers are hurting in the West underwent significant harm as a result of crippling drought conditions that plagued the West for nearly a decade. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration exacerbated that pain by putting the demands of extremist special interest groups ahead of hard-working American families. This has had a dramatic impact: killing thousands of jobs, harming our food supply and leading to unemployment levels as high as 40% in some communities. To provide much needed relief, House Republicans passed Western the Gaining Responsibility on Water (GROW) Act with a bipartisan vote of 230-190. Click HERE to read more.
The Water Rights Protection Act
Western Caucus Member Scott Tipton's Water Rights Protection Act prevents the federal government from taking privately held water rights without just compensation. This would protect a variety of water users including rural communities, businesses, recreation opportunities, farmers and ranchers as well as other individuals that rely on privately held water rights for their livelihood. It does so by prohibiting federal agencies from extorting water rights through the use of permits, leases, and other land management arrangements, for which it would otherwise have to pay just compensation under the 5th Amendment of the Constitution. This legislation is necessary as the Forest Service and BLM have been aggressively pursuing such takings for several years now. The Water Rights Protection Act passed out of the House of Representatives with bipartisan support in both the 113th, 114th and 115th Congresses. Click HERE to read more.
Blocking the Forest Service's Flawed Groundwater Directive
During the Obama Administration, the Forest Service (USFS) proposed a sweeping Groundwater Directive under the guise of eliminating future litigation. However, that Directive only caused further confusion and potential litigation. It has been universally recognized since a 1935 Supreme Court Case that the sole authority over groundwater resources belongs to individual states. Alarmingly, the attempted water grab by the USFS and its misguided groundwater directive was proposed without input from state or local leaders and without any meaningful outreach to water users themselves. Members of the Western Caucus fought the proposed groundwater directive from the beginning and 42 lawmakers sent a letter calling for withdrawal and warning that the Directive would restrict access to public lands and interfere with state and private water rights. As a result of this Congressional pressure, the Forest Service withdrew its overreaching proposed rule. Click HERE to read more.
The U.S. will be losing out on more jobs, more customers, and a stronger economy unless Congress takes up the updated trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. After years of stagnation, America’s economy is growing 50 percent faster than earlier projected. Paychecks are rising, especially among blue-collar and low-income workers. America’s manufacturing is back.
Every day USMCA is stalled in Congress, American workers, families, and economy are missing out.
• Add 176,000 new jobs and over $68 billion in new economic growth (U.S. International Trade
• Add $34 billion in new auto manufacturing investment in the U.S. and 76,000 American auto
jobs over five years (United States Trade Representative)
• Shorten America’s inventors’ wait for patents - preserving valuable time and dollars in getting
new, innovative products to market and preventing foreign competitors from getting a leg up.
• Streamline customs procedures and inefficiencies at the borders, saving time and money for
American businesses and consumers in all three countries.