Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., on Tuesday offered a novel response to the glut of environmental regulations that have hit the agriculture industry: protect the American farmer under the Endangered Species Act.
In one of five amendments Buck is offering to the $30 billion House interior and environment appropriations bill, one would re-allocate $50,000 of bonus payments to senior EPA officials to the Department of Interior, "to conduct a study on whether Agricola Americus should be classified as an endangered species."
The amendment is a humorous attempt to draw attention to the burden that the EPA places on the farming industry.
"Environmentalists have put so many burdens on farmers without any thought to food production in this country, and I want to raise awareness about the plight of the farmers," Buck told the Washington Examiner.
In prepared remarks provided to the Examiner, proposing the amendment, Buck said, "the EPA is no stranger to using its regulatory powers to interfere in important national issues, so it came as a surprise when I discovered that the EPA had overlooked the most endangered species in America."
The congressman noted that over the decades, the number of farmers and farmland has decreased dramatically, an outcome which he says cannot be fully attributed to improving technology. Smaller farmers, he said, have been especially hurt because bigger businesses have an easier time absorbing regulatory costs.
Buck plans to propose the amendment on Tuesday night, according to his office, but the amendment was subject to a point of order because it was moving funds to fund a study that hadn't gone through the regular legislative process. As a result of the objection, Buck plans on withdrawing the amendment after it's been introduced, and then re-visiting the idea in a future bill.