Agri-Pulse Daybreak: NEPA proposal could shield USDA loans

Agri-Pulse Daybreak: NEPA proposal could shield USDA loans

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The administration’s proposal to set deadlines for National Environmental Policy Act analyses and reduce the number of federal actions that would be subject to review also singles out a USDA program for attention.

The proposal would exclude from NEPA review projects enabled by the Farm Service Agency’s farm ownership and operating loan guarantees program. “FSA does not control the bank, or the borrower; the agency does not control the subsequent use of such funds and does not operate any facilities,” the Council on Environmental Quality said in explaining the proposal.

A lawyer for Public Justice, which is currently challenging a NEPA exemption for medium-sized Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, said the new regulations cannot override a statute such as NEPA.

“These loans are presently going to support large industrialized operations,” David Muraskin said. “Thus, exempting them from review is a further attack on independent farming communities.”

Take note: The administration’s proposal also could speed up environmental reviews for federal grazing permits.

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