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American Farm Bureau hails House passage of ‘Waters’ bill

congressThe U.S. House of Representatives voted May 12 to overturn a rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency that would redefine which bodies of water and farm activities are subject to EPA oversight.

H.R. 1732 would force the EPA to withdraw its “Waters of the U.S.” rule and develop a new proposal. It will now be considered by the Senate.

The “Waters” rule was cause for concern among the nation’s farmers because it would give the EPA broad jurisdiction historically relegated to individual states under the Clean Water Act over dry land features and farming practices.

Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said House members “sent a strong, bipartisan message that the flawed ‘Waters of the U.S.’ rule is unacceptable and should be scrapped. Furthermore, it was refreshing to see members of Congress order regulators back to the drawing board with an admonition to listen to the very real concerns of people who would have their farm fields and ditches regulated in the same manner as navigable streams.”

The AFBF has characterized the “Waters” rule as an end-run around Congress and around U.S. Supreme Court decisions, and Stallman said it focused more on regulating land than on protecting valuable water resources.

“Farmers and ranchers know all about the importance of protecting water, and they will continue to put that belief into practice,” he said. “Through cooperative conservation measures, we have helped cut land erosion by more than 50 percent in just the last 20 years.”

U.S. farmers also have reduced pesticide use and today use cutting-edge technology to apply just the right amount of fertilizer at just the right time, Stallman said.

“We look forward to a new water rule that recognizes the enormous work we have done and honors the limits authorized by Congress and the Supreme Court.”

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