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Collins discusses agricultural regulations with Fieldale Farms

POSTED: March 29, 2013 1:24 a.m.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins continued his tour of 9th District industries Thursday morning with a visit to the Fieldale Farms Corp. headquarters in Baldwin.

His districtwide tour included visits to professionals in the agricultural, health care and energy industries, where he listened to concerns and ideas about federal regulations.

In February, Collins announced the formation of a Regulatory Reform Working Group that aims to create a more flexible regulatory system that promotes the private sector by coming up with plans to eliminate strenuous regulations that may hinder the creation of jobs.

“I think the problem we have now is not that we have too few regulations,” Collins said. “I think what we’ve got are regulations that are actually infringing on how we do business.”

Collins said there are a number of regulations that impact one of the state’s largest agricultural districts and he intends to continue discussing the issue while he’s in office.

While his focus is on promoting businesses by eliminating some regulations, he said regulations do play a critical role.

“There are things that need to be in place for safety,” Collins said. “I don’t think anyone would argue the fact that there is a role. The problem is when those regulations roll over into when they’re affecting businesses so businesses can’t do their job, where actually the regulation is hindering the overall effect.”

The congressman spoke with Fieldale Farms officials in a closed-door meeting about regulations that impact the poultry industry specifically.

Before the meeting began, Fieldale Farms President Tom Hensley said with all of his company’s operations located within the district, he was glad to have the opportunity to discuss the more pressing issues facing his business with the congressman.

Hensley said one of the most pressing issues he sees is the renewable fuel standard, which requires a portion of transportation fuel to come from a renewable fuel source.

According to the Envinronmental Protection Agency’s website, www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/index.htm, the standard was established in 2005 to reduce greenhouse gases and to encourage the nation’s renewable fuel sector.

Vice President of Supply Chain Stephen Gray said that the regulation drives up costs because the standard relies heavily on corn as the renewable fuel source.

“Corn supply gets tight, so the cost of corn gets tight,” Gray said. “It affects the price of poultry, meat, bread, milk, everything goes up.”

Hensley said he also intended to discuss immigration reform and his hopes for a guest worker program in which workers could stay in the country for five years to work at processing plants.

Collins said immigration is a big deal right now and lawmakers are poised to begin to move forward but it’s important to look at the long-term implications.

“My concern is I don’t want to see it politicized in Washington where we can’t move forward on issues that we can find agreement on,” Collins said. “There’s issues we’ve got to deal with and we’ve got to work on those. I think the next few months are going to be critical.”

Gray said he appreciated the congressman taking an interest in the industry and it was clear that he is “getting in tune with everything.”

“I think it’s important that people understand we have a congressman that has taken an interest in not only his district but North Georgia and how it affects everybody,” Gray said. “That’s really refreshing.”


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