Rep. Dennis Cardoza released the following statement:
Today, U.S. Congressman Dennis Cardoza (CA-18) grilled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson on the agency’s lack of concern about the impact of its regulations on agriculture producers. Comparing the agency’s zealousness to “judicial activism,” Congressman Cardoza said the EPA’s “agency activism” is burdening farmers with extreme regulations that are seriously impeding their ability to produce food for the nation. Congressman Cardoza, who is Ranking Member of the Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Subcommittee, questioned Administrator Jackson during a hearing held by the House Agriculture Committee.
Congressman Cardoza opened his questioning by voicing the concerns of many Valley farmers who feel the EPA has failed to listen to them.
“I believe that your agency is the most unpopular agency in farm country, from sea to shining sea. Bar none,” said Congressman Cardoza.
“Have you heard of the term, ‘judicial activism,’” Congressman Cardoza questioned. “I would submit that your agency often pursues a course of ‘agency activism,’ where you want to have jurisdiction over an issue, but the law may not quite say so….You settle suits that allow you to the go and pursue a course of action that you may not have the right to do within the law.”
When Administrator Jackson defended the EPA’s courses of action by saying the agency first consults with lawyers on what is required under the law, Congressman Cardoza pursued the issue, saying “You said…that you settle suits based on the grounds of what you believe you can live with…. Madam Administrator, you may be able to live with them, but the farmers in farm country can’t.
“The reality is, that you are making it much more difficult, every day, to do exactly what my colleagues here…have talked about: providing the food, fiber and benefits of farming to our constituents.”
Congressman Cardoza then questioned Administrator Jackson on why the EPA is proposing to eliminate current already-low food tolerance levels for products treated with sulfuryl fluoride, a product that eliminates contamination by pests and other disease carriers. Contaminated products cannot be sold in the United States, under Food and Drug Administration regulations.
Calling sulfuryl fluoride “critical to the protection of U.S. agriculture and especially specialty crops in California,” Congressman Cardoza asked the EPA Administrator, “Can you tell me who are the actual beneficiaries of this proposed EPA action? And why is the Agency taking such an action, given the importance of this product to agriculture and public safety?”
Congressman Cardoza followed up with a question about the EPA’s lack of leadership in defending the safe, low-level use of pesticides by American farmers against misinformation by special interest groups.
“Every year the USDA and EPA work in conjunction to release the Pesticide Data Program report,” said Congressman Cardoza. “This report is an important tool for EPA in setting tolerance levels for pesticide residues for various commodities. The report demonstrates a robust reporting process and year after year shows that the vast majority of fruits and vegetables fall overwhelmingly below the tolerances set by EPA.”
Congressman Cardoza continued, “Yet, every year, there are groups which misconstrue this data to suggest certain conventionally grown commodities are unsafe for consumption. Can your office begin defending both the robust process which generates this report and the findings which demonstrate that safety of the food supply?”