By RICK CALLAHAN (AP) – 19 hours ago
INDIANAPOLIS — As they begin the fall harvest, wary farmers are watching a federal debate over whether to clamp down on one of rural life's constant companions — the dust clouds that farm machinery kick up in fields and along unpaved roads.
Farming groups have urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to retain its current standards for dust, soot and other microscopic particles, arguing that tighter restrictions would be unworkable and that dust isn't a real pollutant.
Grain farmer Charles Schmitt, who farms about 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans near the southwestern Indiana town of Haubstadt, called the possibility of tougher rules on dust "ridiculous."
The 59-year-old, who's farmed for more than four decades, said there's little farmers can do to reduce dust, especially after a dry summer like this year's that left his fields parched.
"Mother Nature has more to do with it than we do — there's going to be dust and dirt no matter what," Schmitt said.
The EPA is reviewing its airborne pollutant standards, as required every five years under the Clean Air Act. It's looking both at its standards for tiny particles of industrial pollution, and slightly larger particles called "coarse particulate matter" that include dust. Read More
This is a really frustrating thing for many of us in agriculture. We certainly do as much as we can to reduce dust but there is no possible way to completely prevent it. Dust comes from the dirt just like our crops do. Some days it seems that it won’t be long until someone will want to ban dirt as a way to eliminate dust. That’s how out of touch some of these folks are. They claim that this new regulation could prevent some respiratory problems but it’s not an overall improvement if it causes a food prices to increase.