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  • Commentary posted May 13, 2015 by Daren Bakst Water, water everywhere … not a drop unregulated

    The feds have launched a new power grab, and it’s coming at the expense of property rights. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers have proposed a new rule to define “waters of the United States.” This definition is supposed to clarify what “waters” are covered under the Clean Water Act and therefore what these two agencies can…

  • Issue Brief posted April 30, 2015 by John Gray, Nicolas Loris, Daren Bakst The House Energy and Water Appropriations Bill Misses the Mark

    This week, the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill is likely to receive floor consideration. One of 12 appropriations bills providing discretionary funding for the federal government, this bill provides funding for projects under the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps); the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation; the Department…

  • Backgrounder posted April 29, 2015 by Daren Bakst What You Need to Know About the EPA/Corps Water Rule: It’s a Power Grab and an Attack on Property Rights

    On April 21, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers published a proposed rule—“Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ Under the Clean Water Act” (CWA)—to define which waters are covered under the Clean Water Act (that is, jurisdictional waters).[1] The proposed rule could cover almost any type of water, giving the two agencies…

  • Issue Brief posted April 7, 2015 by Daren Bakst Congress Should Separate Food Stamps from Agricultural Programs

    About every five years, Congress passes a farm bill. Despite its name, the farm bill covers more than just agricultural programs. In reality, food stamps account for about 80 percent of the projected cost of the 2014 farm bill.[1] Agricultural programs and food stamps should not be combined into one bill. Instead, they should be considered on their own merits in separate…

  • Backgrounder posted March 31, 2015 by Daren Bakst Achievable Economic Policy Reforms for Congress

    Congress can pass legislation this year that would make a significant difference in the lives of Americans. Despite the perception of partisan gridlock, broad support exists for many important domestic economic policy reforms. These policies are ambitious but achievable, and, if adopted, would promote economic growth, empower individuals, and reduce government waste.…

  • Commentary posted March 9, 2015 by Daren Bakst Ag policy needs less government intervention

    Agricultural policy doesn’t get the attention that it deserves. But policymakers and potential presidential candidates have the chance to change that at the Iowa Ag Summit in Des Moines. One reason agriculture gets overlooked is that the farm bill is really a food stamp bill. About 80 percent of the spending is for food stamps. Legislators push through this legislation…

  • Commentary posted March 3, 2015 by Daren Bakst Protecting Taxpayers from the Farm Bill's New Blank Check

    Last year, Congress created two major programs for farmers that, not surprisingly, will shatter Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) cost projections. Taxpayers’ liability for these programs is open-ended because a widely-supported limit on costs to protect taxpayers didn’t make it in the final farm bill. Congress should put an end to this liability immediately. The 2014…

  • Issue Brief posted February 10, 2015 by Daren Bakst Capping the Costs of the Two Major New Commodity Programs

    The 2014 farm bill eliminated the infamous direct payments program that gave farmers subsidies regardless of need. Instead of stopping there and making real progress, Congress created two new commodity programs, Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), which will likely cost as much as and probably far more than the direct payments program. The farm…

  • Issue Brief posted November 18, 2014 by Daren Bakst, Rachael Slobodien The EPA and the Corps’s CWA Interpretive Rule: A Regulatory End Run

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers released an interpretive rule[1] narrowing an important Clean Water Act (CWA) exemption for agricultural activities. It was released at the same time they released their proposed “waters of the U.S.” rule that would greatly expand the waters the federal government can regulate under the CWA. By…

  • Issue Brief posted October 1, 2014 by Daren Bakst Another EPA and Army Corps Power Grab: Limiting Exemptions for Agriculture Under the CWA

    A‌gricultural activities will likely be far more costly ‌and difficult, at least if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) get their way. In addition to their controversial “waters of the U.S.” proposed rule that would expand the waters that the federal government can regulate under the Clean Water Act (CWA), the EPA and Corps…

  • Commentary posted September 16, 2014 by Daren Bakst Parents, not bureaucrats, should decide what kids eat

    The primary focus of the federal school meal programs should be meeting students’ needs. But for that to happen, there must be recognition that parents — not the first lady or Congress — know what’s best for their children. Unfortunately, the school meal standards that started to go into effect two years ago under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 ignore parents…

  • Issue Brief posted August 19, 2014 by Daren Bakst Reining in the EPA Through the Power of the Purse

    While significant criticism is rightfully directed to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on issues such as greenhouse gas (GHG) regulation, Congress itself is to blame for not reasserting its lawmaking power over an agency that is supposed to be implementing the will of Congress, not the will of the agency. Through the appropriations process, Congress can rein in…

  • Issue Brief posted July 10, 2014 by Daren Bakst FDA’s Artificial Trans Fat “Ban”: A Dangerous Step to Control Personal Dietary Choices

    In November 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published its tentative determination[1] to revoke the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status for partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), which are the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat. As explained in a recent FDA update, “If FDA determines that PHOs are not GRAS, it could, in effect, mean the end of…

  • Commentary posted June 30, 2014 by Daren Bakst The First Parent Of The United States

    Michelle Obama thinks she knows what your children should eat. She’s adamant about promoting her nutrition policies for kids, even the new and disastrous school meal standards implementing the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.” In a recent MSN interview, Michelle Obama revealed her own struggles with getting her kids to eat properly before she came to the White House. This…

  • Backgrounder posted May 30, 2014 by Daren Bakst Addressing Waste, Abuse, and Extremism in USDA Programs

    The federal debt is now more than $17 trillion. Congress needs to significantly cut spending across the board, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is no exception. Spending decisions are about more than just numbers; they reflect policy preferences. Congress should assert its lawmaking and spending powers to control expenditures and to formulate sound policy.…