By Carrie Vicenta Meadows
Agriculture Advisor to Administrator Wheeler
To fulfill the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s mission to protect human health and the environment, we need support from all Americans. We know that farmers and ranchers are the original stewards of the land and should be our natural partners Administrator Andrew Wheeler has made it a priority of EPA to engage more effectively with the agriculture community and rebuild trust with rural America. A large part of my job has been working on enhancing and strengthening both EPA’s outreach and partnerships with farmers and ranchers.
With the release of EPA’s Support of Rural America in 2020 Report, we celebrate the success of EPA’s partnership with agriculture communities. This report makes clear, that agriculture remains a top priority for EPA. Our report details how EPA worked to restore trust through proactive engagement with the agriculture community, delivered regulatory relief and certainty to U.S. agriculture, and provided environmental support through grants and other tools.
In the past year, through proactive engagement we have seen the reinstatement of the Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee, cooperative agreements with state and national groups, and partnership on projects in rural America. Our team logged countless meetings with farmers, ranchers and agriculture groups across the country, showing up to listen and offering solution to their concerns.
Across our ten regions and at Headquarters, EPA has strengthened collaboration and communication with agriculture stakeholders. Administrator Wheeler signed a first-time MOU with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy in November, while twelve state departments of agriculture and two state farm bureaus signed MOU agreements with their respective regions.
2020 marked a year full of challenges for agricultural producers. EPA recognizes the extraordinary situation the agriculture industry has faced since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. To provide certainty, EPA listened to the agriculture community on what’s happening locally and offered guidance and temporary policies to provide solutions to ensure continuity in the food supply.
EPA worked deliver regulatory relief and certainty to U.S. agriculture, in past year by replacing the Waters of the U.S. rule with the now final Navigable Waters Protection Rule providing clarity, predictability and consistency to landowners in rural America. EPA also worked to ensure that farmers have the crop protection tools that they need to use in their fields, approving new uses for existing pesticides and registering new active ingredients for farmers to utilize in their crop plans. EPA also took actions to meet the environmental needs of U.S. agriculture through announcing new grant opportunities and expanding biofuel pathways. EPA has delivered decisions which are clear, transparent and based on sound science.
As we look back at EPA’s engagement with the agriculture community in 2020, we see great progress in restoring trust with rural America. Administrator Wheeler and has worked to ensure agriculture voices have a seat at the table, and we want to keep hearing from you. I’d like to invite you to reach out to your Regional Ag Advisor or email us at Headquarters email@example.com. We must continue to celebrate the work by American agriculture and rural America to protect our natural resources and strengthen our partnership with farmers and ranchers to ultimately reach our shared commitment to protecting the land, water and air.
About the Author: Carrie Vicenta Meadows is the Agriculture Advisor to Administrator Wheeler. The role of the Agriculture Advisor’s Office is acting as a primary advocate and liaison for U.S. agriculture at EPA.