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EPA creates new office for agriculture

Priorities include expanding farmer engagement, improving rural communities

Amid continuing legal battles, regulation concerns and climate-change legislation impacting U.S. farmers, the Environmental Protection Agency is creating a new office to “expand engagement opportunities with agricultural and rural communities.”

epaDuring the Commodity Classic’s general session on March 1 in Houston, Texas, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, left, joined U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, center, to announce the establishment of EPA’s new Office of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Chandler Goule, CEO of the National Wheat Growers Association, moderated the discussion, which also included topics such as the EPA’s efforts to comply with the Endangered Species Act, farm bill negotiations and registration issues with crop protection products such as dicamba. Regan was the first EPA administrator to attend the event, which is the largest farmer-led conference in the nation.The EPA Office of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OARA) will serve as a direct link between EPA and the nation’s rural and agricultural stakeholders and facilitate closer coordination with relevant partners such as the USDA, Food and Drug Administration and state departments of agriculture.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced the creation of the new office March 1 alongside U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at the 2024 Commodity Classic in Houston, Texas. He is the first EPA administrator in history to attend the event, which is the largest farmer-led convention in the nation.

“When I joined EPA nearly three years ago, I committed to working 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,” Regan said during remarks at the Commodity Classic’s general session. “This office will expand engagement opportunities beyond any that we’ve done so far and help ensure your voices are heard, your ideas are understood and that agriculture and rural stakeholders have a continual seat at the table at EPA for many years to come.”

The OARA will also host the EPA’s existing Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee, which was established in 2007 to provide policy advice, information and recommendations to the EPA administrator on a range of environmental issues that are of importance to agriculture and rural communities.

Rod Snyder, EPA’s senior advisor for agriculture since 2021, will lead OARA. In this role, Snyder will help increase coordination among a network of existing agriculture policy advisors located in all 10 EPA regional offices across the country. The new office will also collaborate with small, underserved towns and rural communities that are seeking federal investments in infrastructure upgrades and other community improvement opportunities.

“Our mission is to protect public health and the environment, and I believe that mission goes hand-in-hand with supporting American agriculture and rural communities,” Regan said. “Clean air, clean water and healthy soil are fundamental to the success of the U.S. agricultural sector. And we’re certainly stronger when we all work together toward these goals.”

For more information, visit the OARA’s website at

Check out the full April 2024 Issue of Today's Farmer magazine.

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