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Op-ed: Rural farmers & ranchers left behind once again – this time by Biden’s EPA

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Arizona’s farmers and ranchers could experience a very different market in upcoming years if Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent EV-related rules take root. The EPA’s rules mandate that more than half of all cars and “30% of heavy-heavy-duty vocational trucks” sold by 2032 must be electric. In far too many cases, farmers in our state and their critical efforts have been overlooked – this is no exception. The Arizona Farm Bureau has served as the voice of Arizona agriculture for over 100 years. An intrusive, heavy-handed regulation like this will affect all 27,000 of our members, not just professionally, but personally as well.

Forced electrification of the auto industry will have a negative impact on one of our most vital industries, especially due to the United States’ lack of rural EV infrastructure. If Congress does not stand up in opposition to this heavy-handed regulation, we could once again face unforgiving supply chain challenges across the country.

The Biden administration has made its support for the electrification of the auto industry very clear over these past four years, and its most recent regulatory decision was the cherry on the top. The EPA’s new rule impacts delivery trucks, refuse haulers, dump trucks and many more vehicles that are a necessity in food, fiber and fuel production. Arizona farmers and ranchers who may find themselves in the market for a new truck could be forced to pay more than $400,000 for an electric-battery truck. This cost is astronomical compared to the price of a new diesel semi, which typically sits between $70-150K. Operating on very thin margins already, agriculture generally is a price taker not a price maker. As input costs increase as we have seen, farmers and ranchers are unable to recoup those higher input costs. How does the Biden administration expect farmers and ranchers to afford this steep of an expense? An Arizona farmer could buy 2-5 diesel semi-trucks, price depending, for the cost of one electric-battery truck.

If Arizona farmers and ranchers cannot afford electric trucks when the time comes to buy one, produce shipments could be delayed, supply chains weakened, and consumers at the grocery impacted. It is a negative chain reaction – one that both farmers and consumers should not have to deal with.

If this aggressive transition is to be enforced, farmers and rural Arizonians will run into yet another barrier to entry. In Arizona, charging stations are concentrated in cities like Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff – what are those living across rural Arizona supposed to do if they are in need of a re-charge? Charging deserts are real, and the EPA’s newest rules will only exacerbate their effects. In fact, due to a lack of charging options in most areas, EV drivers have dubbed this fear surrounding charge capacity, “range anxiety.” Arizona is among the top states with “the greatest demand on stations when factoring in the number of registered EVs;” the fact is, the government can’t make these kinds of decisions with just urban areas in mind.

These are roadblocks that we as a state, and country, cannot continue to ignore. During a time where prices are already rising in almost every sense, the government cannot add greater financial burden onto hardworking Americans, especially farmers and ranchers who play a critical role in keeping our food supply chains afloat.

As we move forward trying to navigate these regulations, I call on Congress to object to these heavy-handed regulations, thousands of our members are counting on it.

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