To counteract these burdensome regulations, this week I introduced the Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization and Improvement Act along with Congressman Tim Holden (D-PA). This bipartisan legislation would allow states and communities more flexibility in meeting water quality goals so that we can help restore and protect our natural resources. This bill will set up programs to give farmers, homebuilders and localities new ways to meet their water quality goals. Additionally, this bill will create a voluntary assurance program for farmers. The program will deem farmers to be fully in compliance with their water quality requirements as long as they have undertaken appropriate conservation activities to comply with state and federal water quality goals.

Another example of federal overreach is the ever increasing mandates for the use of more grain by the ethanol industry. I am a strong supporter of renewable fuels, when they compete fairly in the marketplace; however, this effort has created a domino effect that is hurting consumers. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandates that 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels be in our nation’s fuel supply by 2022. This mandate is being fulfilled by grain ethanol that comes from corn. As corn is diverted for ethanol, the higher cost for these crops is passed on to our nation’s farmers. In turn, consumers see that increased price reflected in the price of food on the grocery store shelves.

Because of these concerns, I introduced the Renewable Fuel Standard Elimination Act to simply eliminate the RFS. Working to build support for a complete repeal of the RFS will take time and consumers need immediate relief so I also introduced the bipartisan RFS Flexibility Act, which links the amount of corn ethanol required for the RFS to the amount of the U.S. corn supplies. If the Department of Agriculture reports that U.S. corn supplies are tight, there would a corresponding reduction to the RFS. This is a common sense solution to make sure that we have enough corn supplies to meet all of our demands.

As a Congress, we must ensure that American agriculture can continue to meet the needs of our nation and prevent government overreach that would make it impossible for farmers to continue producing abundant and affordable food and fiber products. Farming and ranching has never been an easy way of life, but it is essential to our economy, our national security, our health and our prosperity. The hard work and dedication of America’s agriculture industry is something to be celebrated every day. As you sit down to dinner tonight, remember the men and women who worked to bring that food to your table. They are keeping America farming.

Rep. Goodlatte (R-Va.) represents the Sixth Congressional District of Virginia. He is a former Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture and currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Committee.