Regulatory Burden Takes Center Stage at SOTU, in Congress

January 28, 2011 Bookmark and Share

President Barack Obama took his State of the Union address Tuesday as an opportunity to again highlight his Administration’s new efforts to reexamine federal regulations and ease their burden where possible.

Last week, Obama issued an executive order that “orders a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive” as he wrote in a Wall Street Journal editorial explaining the move.

In his speech this week, he reiterated the call, saying rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses would be “fixed” but that he would “not hesitate to create or enforce common-sense safeguards to protect the American people.”

In a subsequent passage about simplifying and modernizing the federal government, Obama addressed a related issue, citing the multiple agencies that deal with every major topic with which the federal government deals.

In perhaps the most memorable part of the speech, Obama discussed the regulatory journey faced by salmon, which are in the jurisdiction of both the Interior and Commerce departments when alive and in the wild.

On Wednesday, Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), the former and prospective Ranking Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, wrote the Office of Management and Budget’s regulatory affairs head, saying they are “most interested” the President’s executive order, particularly its application to agriculture and environmental programs.

In their letter, they outlined in detail 19 areas of concern related to agriculture, many of which have emerged as serious concerns for NAWG and other agricultural groups.

They included in their list multiple efforts to impose duplicative regulations on crop protection product applications and water quality standards; proposals under the Clean Air Act that would dramatically increase the Environmental Protection Agency’s presence on agricultural operations; and the implementation of some parts of biotechnology regulation, the crop insurance program and foreign market development programs.

On Thursday, Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) announced significant progress on a legislative solution for another looming regulatory burden, saying he has secured 60 cosponsors for his bill to repeal new requirements obligating businesses to issue a Form 1099 to any goods or service providers they pay more than $600 during a tax year.

Despite popular support for repeal, the requirement survived efforts late in the last Congress to get rid of it, and NAWG and other representatives of small business owners hope it will be overturned before creating a massive paperwork burden at the end of this tax year.

NAWG has been pleased to see the increased focus by both branches of government on the regulatory process and the burden unnecessary and redundant regulations place on small businesses owners like farmers.

NAWG looks forward to working with the Obama Administration as it moves forward with regulatory reviews, and NAWG staff and grower-leaders have already started working with coalition partners to determine how best to present concerns to the Administration under the new policy.

Obama’s full executive order is available online at

Chambliss’ and Roberts’ letter is available at