June 12, 2024

EPA opens new Office of Ag and Rural Affairs

Michael Regan

HOUSTON — To make sure farmers’ voices are heard and their ideas are understood, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan announced the creation of an Office of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

He made the announcement during the general session of the Commodity Classic in Houston.

Regan touted the new office as “an important step that will help solidify EPA’s relationship in the agriculture sector for the future.”

The office will be led by Rod Snyder, who has served as Regan’s senior adviser for agriculture since 2021.

“We have someone competent, who’s been on the job, coming into this job, and he’s gonna do an awesome job for not only EPA, but for all of you, as well,” the administrator said.

“With Rod’s leadership, and with the establishment of this new office, we will ensure agriculture and rural stakeholders have a continual seat at the table at EPA for many years to come.”

“Our nation’s agricultural and rural communities are deeply important to me. They’re also deeply important to President Biden,” he said.

Regan was raised in rural eastern North Carolina. His grandparents were farmers, and his father was an agricultural extension agent.

“I understand the sacrifices that our producers and our families make to ensure that folks all across the country have food on our tables,” he said.

“When I joined EPA, nearly three years ago, I committed to work very closely with farmers and ranchers to identify practical, science-based policies that will protect our environment while also ensuring a vibrant and productive agricultural system. And, folks, I believe I have made good on that commitment.”

Regan noted he has visited farms in Kansas and Wisconsin and an ethanol facility in Iowa and held joint events with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in North Carolina and Alabama, as well as hosted a number of agricultural leaders in his office in Washington, D.C.

“Last summer, EPA finalized the largest renewable volume obligation in the history of the RFS program, which means greater opportunities for our farmers to deliver low carbon biofuels into the future,” he said.

“Additionally, we’ve taken steps to strengthen the legal defensibility of our pesticide program by working very closely with the agriculture community to solve longstanding challenges under the Endangered Species Act.”

Regan said he rechartered EPA’s Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee in 2021.

“I’ve asked that committee to help ensure and evaluate how EPA’s tools and programs can best advance our nation’s agricultural climate mitigation and adaptation goals,” he said.

“By identifying voluntary, incentive-based opportunities, public-private partnerships and market-based approaches, EPA can support farmers and ranchers in efforts to reduce emissions, sequester carbon and also accelerate a more resilient food and agricultural system.

“Now more than ever, both public and private sectors understand that agriculture has a unique and critical role in applying nature-based solutions to address climate change.”

Getting the Renewable Fuels Standard program “back on track and back into a growth mode” has been a priority, Regan said.

“Not only did the most recent RFS include the largest volume in history, but it was also unprecedented because it included volumes for a three-year period, 2023, 2024 and 2025,” he said.

“This program continues to play a major role in diversifying our nation’s energy supply, improving energy independence and security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions — all while supporting rural economies.

“According to our analysis, we estimate that this program increases revenues for farmers by approximately $19 billion per year.”

Regan added that the Biden-Harris administration is fully committed to the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge and the goal of producing 3 billion gallons of SAF by 2030.

“The SAF tax credit and the Inflation Reduction Act will help accelerate progress toward this goal while creating new market opportunities for our nation’s farmers. That’s a win-win for climate and rural America,” he said.

This is an exciting time for the agriculture sector and for the United States, Regan said.

“Our mission is to protect public health and the environment. And I believe our mission goes hand in hand with supporting America’s agriculture and rural communities,” he said.

“Clean air, clean water and healthy soils are fundamental to the success of the U.S. agricultural sector. And we’re certainly stronger when we all work together towards these goals.”

James Henry

James Henry

Executive Editor