This morning, CPR Member Scholar and Vermont Law School Professor Laurie Ristino will testify at a hearing before the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade of the House Small Business Committee. The majority's not-so-subtle objective for the hearing is to apply familiar conservative talking points against federal regulations to the specific context of small farms.
In contrast to the subcommittee majority's three witnesses, all of whom represent industry trade associations that have strongly criticized environmental and other regulations in the past, Ristino's testimony offers a fuller account of the relationship between regulatory safeguards and the economic health of small and mid-sized farms. Indeed, in her testimony, Ristino effectively makes the case that a robust system of environmental, food safety, and worker protections help to provide fertile ground in which small and mid-sized farms can thrive.
We can expect the majority and its three witnesses to spend much of the hearing focused on a not-so-skeptical tallying of the "costs" side of the ledger. Fortunately, Ristino will be there to remind the subcommittee about the myriad benefits that regulations generate. Her testimony does this by making the following three points:
- Regulations impacting agriculture deliver critical public benefits in the form of contaminant-free food, safer workplaces for agricultural workers, and stronger environmental protections.
- Strong regulations can help promote economic growth for small farmers by creating new markets and spurring innovation.
- To help smaller farmers without compromising public protections, federal agencies should continue to support food science research and explore opportunities to provide farmers with regulatory compliance assistance.
Ristino closes her testimony by offering several concrete steps that federal agencies can take to support small and mid-sized farms that would not involve the sort of mindless deregulation that has become the hallmark of the Trump administration and its allies in Congress.
The hearing takes place at 10:30 a.m. Eastern in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC. You can watch a livestream of it here.