The White House recently released its preliminary review of regulations, targeting those which are “obsolete, unnecessary, unjustified, excessively burdensome, or counterproductive.” Most of the examples cited are just that — regulations that are no longer needed. These include EPA vapor trap filters on gas pumps that are now installed on cars and Treasury regulations concerning sanctions on Yugoslavia. They also include processes that could be streamline, such as DOE using a consistent way of indicating confidential data in all of its loan and grant applications.
But there are other who are using the regulatory review to upgrade and modernize the regulations. In an earlier posting, I mentioned how the Interior Department was using the review process to set a unified fee schedule for commercial filming and still photography on public land — thereby bettering manage their intangible assets. HUD is updating their property standards to incorporate green building techniques and energy-efficiency standards for projects financed by the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program.
Here is another example of changing regulations to cope with new circumstances from the Agriculture Department:
As part of the USDA “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” effort to create new economic opportunities by better connecting consumers with local producers, FSIS [Food Safety and Inspection Service] worked with small and medium processors to reduce the complexity of regulations for approving mobile slaughter units under Federal regulations. A mobile slaughter unit is a self-contained slaughter facility that can travel from site to site. These units can help producers meet consumer demand for locally grown and specialty products and can serve multiple small producers in areas where slaughter services might be unaffordable or otherwise unavailable. In general, approval of a mobile slaughter facility required a great deal of stakeholder involvement, creative thinking, and problem solving, because the Federal regulations are based on fixed slaughter facilities. Traditionally, animals intended for sale as food have been transported to an inspected facility for slaughter and processing. For livestock producers in rural areas throughout the country, they were finding it difficult, even cost prohibitive, to transport their livestock long distances to the closest inspected slaughter facility. As a result, regulations based on a fixed location were proving to be a barrier to many small processers from servicing the needs of small producers. In response to these concerns, FSIS engaged its stakeholders to develop guidelines providing solutions to the unique concerns that may arise with mobile slaughter units. Under the new guidelines developed by FSIS, small processers can more easily take advantages of mobile slaughter, which include lower processing costs, reduced stress on animals, lower capital investment, and less resistance from municipalities and neighbors.
A great example of the need for smart regulations. No one would want slaughter houses to be deregulated — for obvious reasons of public health. The trick is to re-craft the regulations to fit the new circumstances. In this case, the new circumstance is the shift from the centralized, industrial age meat processing facilities to a more localized, decentralized production process. Kudos to the Agriculture Department for understanding and responding to the shift.