‘Ditch the Rule’ campaign asserts farmers’ challenge to proposed waters rule

farm-droughtFarmers and ranchers across the nation recognize that their ability to farm could be negatively affected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed “Waters of the United States” rule. The American Farm Bureau Federationhas launched a campaign urging the EPA to withdraw the rule.

The rule, Farm Bureau asserts, would have dire consequences for U.S. farmers and ranchers and a substantial impact on the ability of states and localities to make land use decisions that best meet the needs of their citizens. The efforts of the organization’s “Ditch the Rule” campaign have resulted in more than 230 lawmakers co-signing a letter to the EPA that calls for the rule’s withdrawal.

The support “shows clearly that they, too have concerns,” said AFBF chief lobbyist Dale Moore. “They’re hearing that everybody that has some kind of economic activity that requires some work on the land could have a very dramatic and negative impact from this rule, should it go into force.”

Farm Bureau says the rule ultimately could lead to unlawful expansion of federal regulation to cover routine farming and ranching practices, as well as other common private land uses such as building homes.

“The EPA proposal poses a serious threat to farmers, ranchers and other landowners,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said earlier this spring. “Under EPA’s proposed new rule, waters— even ditches— are regulated even if they are miles from the nearest ‘navigable’ waters. Indeed, so-called ‘waters’ are regulated even if they aren’t wet most of the time. EPA says its new rule will reduce uncertainty, and that much seems to be true: There isn’t much uncertainty if most every feature where water flows or stands after a rainfall is federally regulated.”

Under the Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, any discharge into navigable waters requires a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. Federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act is limited to navigable waters. The proposed rule expands that jurisdiction to tributaries, even if they are intermittent or ephemeral; adjacent waters; and any water or wetland that can significantly affect U.S. waters, even if those waters are not considered significant themselves.

AFBF has assembled articles and analysis relevant to the proposed rule at ditchtherule.fb.org.

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