The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed “Waters of the US” rule was published in the Federal Register last week – all 111,000 words of it. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) responded with just three words – “Ditch the Rule”.
AFBF Public Policy Director Dale Moore says the “ditch” part comes from the fact that a reading of the rule indicates it would greatly expand EPA’s authority. “Even things as small as ditches and wet spots in a field could fall under their jurisdiction the way they have this defined,” he said.
There are exemptions in the rule for farming operations, but Moore notes there are limitations that could impact beginning farmers and ranchers. “Most of these exemptions apply to farms and practices on those farms that were in place since 1977 forward,” he said, implying that new farmers and ranchers “may find themselves not having access to any of these exemptions.”
Because of the complexity and the length of the rule – more than 370 printed pages – Moore says the usual 90 day comment period is insufficient so part of the “Ditch the Rule” initiative is to get the administration to at least double that time period to 180 days. “This is a very complicated rule – it’s a massive rule,” said Moore.
That’s why Farm Bureau is calling on its members to bring the rule to the attention of local, state and federal lawmakers. “At a certain point this quits being about regulating navigable waters and becomes basically about EPA becoming the federal land use planning in the nation,” Moore added.Interview with Dale Moore, American Farm Bureau