Regulatory Reform

Regulatory Reform

The Trump administration has devoted substantial effort to reforming regulations that they believe are constraining U.S. economic activity. To date the effort has focused on the use of Executive Orders to redirect the federal regulatory effort. Beginning just after the inauguration with the memorable “one in two out” Executive Order the federal agencies have been instructed to make reducing the overall level of regulation a priority. Recently, the administration raised the bar on the deregulation effort when the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) published the Unified Agenda for Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, “Better than 2:1”. This means that agencies will now have to finalize three deregulatory actions for every one new regulatory action in FY2018.

Outside the Executive Branch the path to regulatory reform in Congress has not been as easily accessed. In those areas where regulation can only change with Congressional action the process has moved more slowly. The thin majority enjoyed by the Republicans in the Senate requires obtaining Democrat votes to approve reforms that are easily approved in the House.

The regulatory burden on farms and other small businesses is a continuing concern for their owners and a real threat to economic growth and job creation. Regulatory overreach comes from many directions but for farmers it often involves environmental regulations and destabilization of the labor force. Meaningful regulatory reform should focus both on fundamental process reforms and the reevaluation of specific regulatory actions. Fundamental process reforms should include ensuring transparency, providing opportunities for meaningful stakeholder input, incorporating science and the reasonable estimation of the costs and benefits of regulatory actions.

Specific current rules and existing laws that would fall in the scope of regulatory reform include:

  • Waters of the U.S. Rule (WOTUS)
  • EPA Pesticide Registration and Regulation Process
  • National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Duplicative Pesticide Regulation
  • Worker Protection Standard
  • Agriculture Guest Worker (H-2A) Reform

The Trump administration has moved rapidly to address WOTUS, restore balance in the pesticide regulatory process at EPA and reconsider certain flawed provisions of the Worker Protection Standard. The House has passed legislation to provide a fix to the NPDES permitting issue, but the Senate remains an impediment to eliminating this duplicative permitting rule. The House version of the Farm Bill includes a provision that clarifies the intent of Congress, but it is currently unclear if the Senate will accept that language. There have been repeated attempts through the appropriations process to improve the H-2A program, but those are temporary in nature and ultimately cannot provide the fully reformed program the agriculture requires.

Updated July 2018