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Ag CEO Council optimistic after meeting with EPA nominee

Joshua Roberts/stringer/Getty Images News Michael Regan - EPA Adminstrator designate
EPA Administrator-designate Michael Regan shares his grandfather was a small diversified farmer.

EPA Administrator-designate Michael Regan hosted a virtual roundtable Jan. 5 with more than 16 members of the Ag CEO Council and staff, composed of leaders of some of the largest agriculture and farm organizations in the U.S. The leaders were briefed on the next administration’s plans to work with agricultural leaders to promote healthy and secure food supplies, clean air and clean water.

The Ag CEO Council discussed the need for a strong ag liaison at the EPA and reiterated that U.S. agriculture needs to be part of the global climate solution, committed to ongoing work in conservation and sustainable practices. Members also emphasized the importance of adequate EPA staff and funding to meet deadlines for pesticide registration decisions, among other critical EPA functions.

“Regan, the current secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality in North Carolina, shared how his experiences growing up in a farm family, along with his work on the state level, helped shape his perspective of rural communities and their economic challenges,” says USA Rice President and CEO Betsy Ward. 

Administrator-designate Regan described his own experiences growing up in eastern North Carolina, and his understanding of the importance of both protecting environmental quality and supporting the economic health of rural communities. The Administrator-designate shared that his grandfather was a small farmer in Bladen County, North Carolina where he planted corn, tobacco, peanuts and soybeans and also raised pork and poultry.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says he appreciated the conversation with Regan. “Mr. Regan sent a clear signal that he’s listening and wants to engage with agriculture, which is crucial as we work to protect our natural resources while addressing the needs of rural America.,” Duvall says.

“I thought it was a very positive meeting,” Ward adds. “USA Rice looks forward to working with Regan and his staff on science-based solutions that will give rice farmers more certainty as they continue to maintain the country’s safe, nutritious food supply.”

Chandler Goule, chair of the Ag CEO Council and CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers, says given the impending confirmation process EPA Nominee Regan wasn’t able to answer policy questions. “We talked about the need for good communication between agencies -- EPA and USDA because of the regulatory impact of EPA actions. We also talked about the importance of using sound science in decision-making,” Goule says. “It was a very positive meeting, and he’s strongly committed to having an open door to hear from ag stakeholders.”

They also discussed how the incoming Biden-Harris Administration will work closely with agricultural producers to find practical, common sense solutions to environmental challenges, to create jobs and expand economic opportunities in rural communities through the Build Back Better plan, and to harness the ingenuity of farmers and ranchers to promote clean energy and tackle climate change, the Biden transition team notes.

As DEQ secretary in North Carolina, a leading pork-producing state, the National Pork Producers Council adds Regan “always had an open door, valued diverse points of view, and worked to find solutions that ensured science and data were guiding decisions,” says NPPC President Howard “AV” Roth.

He previously served at the EPA under both Democratic and Republican presidents — leading initiatives at the agency to improve energy efficiency and air quality and mitigate pollution — and was an associate vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund focused on climate issues.

Also on the call was Rep. Cedric Richmond, D., La., incoming senior adviser to President-elect Biden and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Also on the call besides Goule, Ward and Duvall (who serves at the Ag CEO Council co-chair) was Daren Coppock, president and CEO, Ag Retailers Association; Andrew Lavigne, president and CEO, American Seed Trade Association; Steve Censky, CEO, American Soybean Growers Association; Luther Markwart, executive vice president, American Sugarbeet Growers Association; Erick Lutt, senior director, Biotechnology Innovation Organization; Chris Novak, president and CEO (chair), CropLife America; Corey Rosenbusch, president and CEO, The Fertilizer Institute; Colin Woodall, CEO, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; Jon Doggett, CEO, National Corn Growers Association; Neil Dierks, CEO, National Pork Producers Council; Tim Lust, CEO, National Sorghum Producers; Tom Stenzel, president and CEO, United Fresh Produce Association; and Barb Glenn, CEO, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.


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