Farm Bureau: EPA’s proposed rule doesn’t hold water

newspaperSubstantial rainfall in parts of Central Virginia on May 16 led to minor puddles in many farm fields and ditches. The American Farm Bureau Federation warns that a proposed expansion of the Clean Water Act by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could require farmers to follow federal regulations for those “waterways,” up to and including prohibiting many past farm practices.

“If the EPA is going to regulate every spot out here that’s wet during a rainfall event, it’s going to create all sorts of headaches for farmers,” said Donald Parrish, AFBF senior director of regulatory relations. “This proposed rule is very, very broad. It’s not only going to impact farmers and ranchers, it’s going to impact anybody that tries to build a road, a home or a new business and bring jobs into an area.”

Parrish was in Richmond at EXPO Richmond 2014, a forestry trade show, to talk to landowners and industry leaders about building coalitions and speaking out against the EPA’s proposed “Waters of the United States” rule. He urged them to learn what the rule really called for and to support the AFBF’s “Ditch the Rule” campaign.

“For the first time ever, the EPA is proposing to regulate ditches and wet spots as tributaries to the waters of the U.S.,” Parrish said. “Those aren’t aquatic resources, they’re land. I don’t see how anybody can look at the definitions that are in this proposal and not understand that the EPA is trying to expand their regulatory footprint.

Congress tried to partition land use and local decisions from the federal government by using the term ‘navigable waters’ in the original Clean Water Act. But this rule completely overrides that; it’s an end-run. And an end-run not only around Congress, but two Supreme Court rulings” on the definitions of the CWA, he said.

Details about Farm Bureau’s concerns are available online at

Parrish warned the proposed rule could affect everyone, not just farmers.

“Even the roadside ditch in front of your house, that could be characterized as a tributary for the first time and could be regulated by the EPA. That’s pretty darn scary.”

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