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EPA head tries to ‘dispel myths’ during Iowa visit

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson attempted to narrow the “communication gap” between the agricultural community and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during a farm tour in central Iowa on Tuesday.

Jackson says she came to Iowa at the invitation of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to help dispel some of the myths about the EPA—one of those being that the agency is targeting agriculture.

“Listen, we all want clean air—we want clean water—but we’re not targeting agriculture to do it,” Jackson says. “We’re simply saying, let’s find those places—and I’ve seen lots of them today—where there are win-win solutions.  Where you can do your business—small, medium or large—and we can also ensure that the air quality and water quality are being protected.”

AUDIO: Excerpts from Lisa Jackson’s news conference (6:30 MP3)

Gordon Wassenaar of Prairie City, Iowa, who hosted one of the tour stops, says he focused on improvements in soil conservation during his visit with Jackson and Vilsack.  “We’ve been no-tillers for 20-plus years and we’ve got terraces and, hopefully, some good waterways—and we’re moving to strip-till this year.”

Wassenaar says he doesn’t have any big concerns with the EPA.

“I kind of come at it from the fact, it’s where we’ve come from and the direction we’re headed with new tools—corns that will use less nitrogen—the drought-tolerant corns—these are just some of the things that are going to have a real affect on us,” says Wassenaar.

AUDIO: Excerpts from Gordon Wassenaar’s comments to media (4 min MP3)

Another Prairie City area farmer, Dean Taylor—president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association—says he is concerned with mounting government regulations.

“When regulations get too tight, you’re out of business,” Taylor says. “The little guy can’t compete with the government coming in his driveway everyday to tell him he needs to straighten something out—to do something. 

“If you’ve got to have a lawyer on the speed dial, you’ve got a problem.”

However, Taylor does regard Jackson’s tour of Iowa farms as a positive sign. 

“I think it shows great desire to be helpful and work with us when the Administrator will come out with the Secretary and hear what we’re doing and get a handle on it.”

AUDIO: Dean Taylor interview with Brownfield (2:30 MP3)

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