With more than 63,000 farms, agriculture is Pennsylvania's largest industry. From chicken and dairy farms to mushroom and apple growers, our farmers put food on our tables and play a critical role in our statewide economy.
Throughout his first three years in the Senate, Senator Toomey has visited many farms and met with dozens of farmers to get their firsthand take on the challenges they face. Their message has been clear and unambiguous - Washington's deluge of new regulations is impeding the growth and success of our farms. All too often, the bureaucrats in Washington are oblivious to the real-world implications of their actions. There is a growing bipartisan consensus that we should be pushing back against these excesses wherever we can.
For instance, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has devised a massive new regulatory framework to micromanage the nutrient and sediment runoff from Pennsylvania farms and other sources within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The agricultural community has expressed clear and well-founded objections to this program, and Senator Toomey and his colleagues have conveyed their concerns to the agency on numerous occasions.
While he shares the EPA's desire to have healthy, vibrant waterways, Senator Toomey believes that the agency needs to be a cooperative partner, not an overbearing regulator. Accordingly, he joined several Congressional colleagues in filing an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Pennsylvania farmers in their case against the EPA before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Senator Toomey will continue to press the case of Pennsylvania farmers with the EPA as this process unfolds and will seek legislative remedies as necessary.
The EPA has further threatened the viability of our state's agricultural community by working to expand its jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act to include previously exempt non-navigable waterways. Under this proposal, small streams, ponds, and even ditches that occasionally flood could come under the regulatory authority of the EPA. This could have a tremendously damaging effect on our agricultural industry and numerous farmers and ranchers have vocally expressed their concerns. Accordingly, Senator Toomey led an effort with his Senate colleagues to write to the EPA administrator to voice our objections and he has cosponsored legislation to protect our farms from this regulatory overreach.
As well as opposing excessive regulations from Washington, Senator Toomey has worked to ensure that our farmers and food producers have the well-deserved opportunity to sell their products in the global marketplace. He has advocated for improved market access for our farmers in the European Union (EU) and elsewhere, and has opposed the imposition of tariff and non-tariff barriers that unfairly deny Pennsylvanian farmers and food producers access to foreign markets. Senator Toomey recently led a bipartisan effort to oppose the EU's aggressive use of geographical indications (GIs), which would restrict market access for American producers of common cheeses such as feta, parmesan, and Muenster. A majority of Senators joined his effort to oppose this unfair treatment.
As global trade negotiations continue, Senator Toomey wants to ensure that Pennsylvanians are given more opportunities to sell their cheese, vegetables, meat, and other high-quality products in the world's largest markets.
Unfortunately, these issues are just the tip of the iceberg for Pennsylvania's farmers. Federal red tape continues to grow and stifle our farmers, making it harder for them to stay in business. Senator Toomey will continue to fight against excessive regulation and for expanded market access. For the sake of our farm families and Pennsylvania's economy, this is a fight we cannot afford to lose.