Reporter: James Gherardi l Videographer: Jonathan Merryman
Pittsylvania Co., VA - It's now up to the senate to pass Rep. Robert Hurt's Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act. The bill passed in the house by an overwhelming majority.
The bill would limit the EPA from controlling dust on farms. Hurt says he crafted the bill because further federal farming regulations would hurt the area, limiting job growth in an already struggling region. Farmers agree.
"There's a lot of regulations that are good. But there are some petty regulations that I think sometimes the government just wants to have their hands in things that they really don't need to be concerned about," said Pattie Owen of Owen Farm.
It's that sentiment among local farmers that drove Rep. Hurt to propose his farm dust regulation prevention act. Hurt says too many federal regulations kill jobs.
"The last thing farmers need, the last thing that folks who have businesses in rural areas need is to have the EPA coming down and making it more difficult to do business," said Hurt.
"Because you would have to spend so much time meeting those regulations, you wouldn't have time to do anything else. The cost would have to go up to the consumer," said Owen.
Dust is a natural occurrence in farming farmers say they shouldn't have to control. They say it forces small local farms to conform to the same regulations as corporate industrial agriculture, and it just doesn't seem fair.
"A smaller operation doesn't typically have the manpower to deal with a regulation on that scale," said Stephen Barts, a Pittsylvania County extension agent.
Owen runs her farm with her husband. She's grateful the house passed the bill because she says their small operation can't handle more government regulations.
"The licenses and the regulations and the penalties and all the stuff that you have to go through raises the cost for the farmer," said Owen.
The bill passed in the house by a vote of 268 to 150. Hurt hopes the senate will vote on the bill some time next year.