Farmers are, and always have been, the foundation that holds up our society. The populace at large takes them for granted. The food we find at the grocery store is hardly ever considered to be the hard work of the men and women who plant it, grow it, dig it out of the ground, and ship it. Without the farmer, America would fall.
And they are drowning in bureaucracy. Delays in equipment, approvals, and more plague the American farmer in ways that any locust or blight could. However, with President Trump’s infrastructure spending bill, farmers may find some relief and are speaking out in favor of it.
Gerald Long, President of the Georgia Farm Bureau, is set to meet with Trump to discuss the needs of the farmers and how this infrastructure spending bill will not only help farmers but America at large. Before he meets with Trump, however, he spoke with RedState about what the infrastructure bill means for you, if it passes.
“We’re so entrenched with laws and agencies that we have to get approval from. This amounts to a lot of cost and time, and it is strangling us,” Long told RedState during a phone interview.
“For us to be able to be the number one country in the world, we need to update and ease restrictions from the different agencies to get various things approved,” Long added.
Long told RedState that the government bureaucracies that oversee the farmers in America are numerous and none of them communicate with each other. Just to get approval for a soil conservation project takes involvement from seven different agencies who, according to Long, are so disorganized that you may be waiting years before you can get started. This also includes the purchase of equipment.
“New technology, robotic equipment, heavy equipment…it takes years to get approval for just one of these machines,” Long told RedState.
“It takes four-and-a-half years to get an environmental impact statement before you can get a permit to work the land,” he added.
And that’s just one of the quicker timelines. According to Long, some projects have been waiting on approval for decades due to the red tape piled on by various agencies.
“Building new reservoirs is essential to farmers since water is the basis of everything we do,” said Long.”There are projects going on for 30 plus years that haven’t been completed because of all the regulations and rules we have to follow.
“In the 1930s, the Hoover Dam was built in five years, the Golden Gate Bridge took four years, and the Empire State Building only took one year to build. That was back in the 1930s,” said Long.
It’s definitely a staggering comparison to think about these great works being accomplished in such a short time span, while to begin developing land for agricultural needs takes around the same time.
Between the costs of developing the land, planting the crops, maintaining the equipment, and dealing with logistics, the cost to the American farmer is already skyrocketing. Now, on top of that, hiring the lawyers and the cost of dealing with the government agencies is also kneecapping the people who provide us with food.
With the costs skyrocketing for the farmers, that means the costs are skyrocketing for us, too, and what’s more, delaying that food from getting to us to feed our families. With shortages being reported constantly due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus, these regulations being enforced by disorganized government agencies aren’t helping in the least.
“We farmers want to make the perfect product at the cheapest price, but can’t because prices skyrocket due to all the red tape,” Long explained.
This new infrastructure bill will bring the agencies together for a more streamlined process reducing prices and cutting the time it takes to do anything in half.
According to Long, Trump understands the plight of the farmer and Long is glad he’s here to help with his proposed infrastructure spending bill.
“I commend President Trump for recognizing the problems,” said Long.
“Hopefully, he will get approved,” he added. This will help America as a whole, not just with agriculture. It will help America compete worldwide.”
Trump expressed his agreement when recently addressing the rollback of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) rules.
“The United States can’t compete and prosper if a bureaucratic system holds us back from building what we need,” Trump said.
The bill is set to be marked up today and some GOP Senators are expressing anxieties over the $1 trillion price tag attached to it. Lawmakers have been referring to the bill as a “heavy lift” and “too rich.” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, however, believes that there is a workaround. According to him, whatever bill the Senate comes up with would likely cost a lot less.
The fight over NEPA revolves around environmentalists believing that Trump’s rollback of the decades-old policies would allow polluters to have free reign over the land without the chance for its impact to be discovered. This isn’t a narrative that Long agrees with.
“Farmers are the greatest environmentalists there are,” Long told RedState. “We need this land. We work this land for a living. We want it to be healthy.”
As it stands, it would appear that much of the delay stems from a bureaucracy that requires our farmers to jump through a staggering number of hoops before it can get anything done. The farmers themselves aren’t rushing the process with no regard to their surroundings, the government is just complicating matters.
This new bill will update the process and bring it into the present.