EPA hopes to work more closely with cattlemen

Cattle producers discuss issues during the Property Rights and Environmental Management Committee of National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

Cattle producers discuss issues during the Property Rights and Environmental Management Committee of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

A representative of the Environmental Protection Agency told cattlemen the agency is working to improve relationships with the agriculture community.

“We want to branch and work with you all,” said Allison Wiedeman, Chief of the Rural Branch of the Water Permits division of EPA. 

During the meeting of the Property Rights and Environmental Management Committee of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Wiedeman gave examples of how EPA hopes to improve relationships with farmers and ranchers, while achieving the goal of protecting the environment. For example, she described a livestock discussion group that would be an informal forum for key livestock producers to discuss issues related to water quality.

Committee members were naturally skeptical of the EPA’s intentions, especially with Freedom of Information Act. One cattlemen asked, “You say you want to develop relationships but why would I share my information with you, and then someone could take a little piece of that and use it against me.”

“On some levels, I don’t blame you,” Wiedeman said. “I recognize that it would be a leap of faith, but if we don’t start talking we won’t ever turn this ship around.” At the same time, she said that EPA is a huge ship and it will take some time to steer it in a different direction. Each small step toward improving relationships will help, she said. 

Wiedeman said she has worked for EPA through several administrations and the new EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy is the first one who has expressed a very real interest in working with the agriculture community. “I’ve seen administrators come and go and there has never been as much interest to working with the agriculture community as there is now.”

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Categories: Convention News, Featured News

Author:Holly Martin

Holly Martin is the editor of High Plains Journal/Midwest Ag Journal.

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