Agriculture Reacts to WOTUS Final Rule

Cindy Zimmerman

Agricultural organizations are analyzing the final Clean Water Act Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule released today to determine whether it answers the concerns they have raised about the impact the regulation would have on farmers and ranchers, but most express reservations.

afbf-logo“We are undertaking a thorough analysis of the final WOTUS rule to determine whether the Environmental Protection Agency listened to the substantive comments farmers and ranchers submitted during the comment period,” said American Farm Bureau president Bob Stallman. “Based on EPA’s aggressive advocacy campaign in support of its original proposed rule—and the agency’s numerous misstatements about the content and impact of that proposal—we find little comfort in the agency’s assurances that our concerns have been addressed in any meaningful way.”

nfu-smallNational Farmers Union president Roger Johnson believes the final rule is an improvement over the proposed rule. “The final rule puts bright-line limits on jurisdiction over neighboring waters, offering farmers increased regulatory certainty and mitigating the risk of enforcement or litigation,” said Johnson, adding that it also “provides more clarity on which ditches fall under the Clean Water Act jurisdiction.” However, Johnson says they “remain concerned about waters that cannot impact the quality of jurisdictional waters will fall under jurisdiction, or that farmers will not have the regulatory certainty they need to address these waters appropriately.”

NCGA-LogoNational Corn Growers Association president Chip Bowling of Maryland says they will be fully review the final rule. “We especially want to ensure that the broad promises made in the EPA press release are carried out in the text of this comprehensive rule,” said Bowling. “We especially will look closely at how on-farm ditches, ponds and puddles are treated in the rule.”

The American Soybean Association will also be reviewing the rule for the same reasons but the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association strongly condemned the final rule, saying it “unilaterally strips private property rights” and is a “flawed rule … from a flawed process.”