Friday, July 11, 2014
The proposed rule defining “waters of the U.S.” sets off red flags for Pike County’s Jim Koeller.
“When we start seeing words like seasonal flow, words like interconnectivity, that is what alarms me,” Koeller said. “As I look around at my farm, it looks like anything that flows off my farm could be regulated.”
Koeller farms near New Canton with his stepbrother, Edwin Harpole, and his father, Harry.
He recalls the battle over the definition of wetlands in the 1990s. Pike County, he said, served as “ground zero” in that battle. We’re seeing similarities by redefining waters of the U.S.,” he said.
The proposed rule, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers, states that the following are federally-protected under the Clean Water Act:
EPA says the rule merely clarifies which wetlands and streams are “waters of the U.S.” Illinois Farm Bureau and other agricultural groups disagree, saying the rule would expand its jurisdiction beyond what Congress intended.
“Alarms are going off in our minds,” Koeller said. “We see the burden of proof being placed upon the farmer. We see the need for permits. We see definitions and words that EPA is defining without common sense. “We are just very concerned that this will be an attempt to regulate basically every little stream that comes out of your field.”
Leaders in Washington, he said, need to remember that farmers grow food. Proposals like this, he noted, add extra regulations and “make it impossible to do business. I’d sure hate for us to wake up some day, and say, ‘Boy, I sure hate the cost of food being so high and bringing it all in from other countries and wonder what happened,’ Koeller said. “These are steps.”
Watch this video for a complete explanation of the proposed rule, and share it on social media to help spread the word.
Contact your local county Farm Bureau for information, or visit the official Ditch the Rule website for an in-depth explanation.
IFB’s Director of National Legislation & Policy Development, Adam Nielson, says it is important for Illinois to continue efforts to spread the word about the proposed rule.
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