You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Farm Dust Alert

Here is the lead paragraph to Robert Draper's Dec. 4 New York Times Magazine profile of Mitt Romney: 

“'Your story about dust regulation captures my interest,' Mitt Romney said to the farmer, sounding as if he actually meant it. It was a late October afternoon in Treynor, Iowa, the setting for one of those campaign meta-events at which a presidential candidate enjoys a casual moment with real people that is in fact carefully staged and dutifully broadcast by multitudes of local and national reporters hovering a few feet away. In this instance, Romney was participating in a round-table discussion with a dozen local businessmen—his kind of folks—and exhibiting his teacher’s-pet flair for spewing out entrepreneurial minutiae."

Not to nitpick here, but farm-dust regulation isn't "entrepreneurial minutiae." It's political bullshit. There is no pending farm-dust regulation. What there is, is an attempt by Republicans to persuade everybody that there is a pending farm-dust regulation so they can pass a new law exempting the agricultural industry (yes, it is an industry, not some Thomas Hart Benton fantasy of agrarian transcendence) from an existing clean-air regulation that hardly ever affects farms (but, when it does, addresses a legitimate health issue). According to Think Progress, the bill is now worded so broadly that it also shields from regulation "particulate pollution from open-pit mining, lead smelters and chemical and industrial facilities," all in the name of protecting the family farm. If you're a TNR subscriber you can read my TRB column about this phony controversy here.