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Executive Order Unclear Concerning Ag Regulations

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President Donald Trump signed an executive order at the end of January called Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs. The order says that if a new regulation is put in place at executive agencies, two existing ones must be repealed.

But overall, it is unclear how the order will be implemented.

The Iowa State University Center for Agriculture Law and Taxation Assistant Director Kristine Tidgren says when it comes to the 2018 farm bill, should it be passed by Congress, the USDA will be ordered to implement it along with the regulations that come with it.

She says, "The regulations aren't intended to burden farmers or agriculture, they're intended to put in place the definitions of the different phrases that a particular statute can include. So, in many cases, regulations aren't extra burdens they're just interpretations that actually make the law clearer and actually less costly to implement."

In the definition of the executive order, it says the term "regulation" does apply to an effect that interprets law or policy, though it gives the Director of Office Management and Budget the power to exempt regulations.

Tidgren says the order has a lot of unclear aspects: like if a farm bill were to pass, would it be a law, "Everything in the order has the caveat, 'unless required by law.' And so, of course, every new law that Congress passes, usually, it directs a particular agency to implement regulations. So, is that the regulation that's unless required by law?"

A memorandum from the White House in early February did try to clear up some of the common questions of The Executive Order, one of which is that it applies only to the Fiscal 2017 year. Recently passed legislation won't count.

However, the memo often refers to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs on rules, as well as allowing for some decisions to be made on a case-by-case basis.