WASHINGTON, D.C. —New legislation introduced by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating naturally occurring farm dust is welcome news for the nation's farmers and ranchers, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

"Regulation of farm dust by EPA could severely hamper the ability of farmers and ranchers to meet the world’s food needs," said AFBF President Bob Stallman.

EPA is reviewing existing regulations for particulate matter, which includes soot and dust. Soot is generated by car emissions and factories; dust occurs naturally.

According to Stallman, planting and harvesting crops, livestock moving from place to place and people driving down dirt roads are just a few of the ways dust occurs naturally on farms and in rural areas.

"The current rules pertaining to dust are adequate," said Stallman. "Increased regulation of farm dust could result in decreased productivity and higher food prices, coupled with lost jobs in the rural economy. Moreover, the scientific basis for establishing such regulation has been called into question and it has not been demonstrated that the benefits of EPA regulation would outweigh the costs."

The new legislation introduced by Johanns prevents EPA from making dust regulations even more stringent, while taking health concerns into consideration.

"State and local governments would have the authority to regulate dust in localized areas if necessary," Stallman explained. “But a national standard would not be imposed.”