Friday, June 06, 2014
If you are working in or around agriculture, a farmer, or just a landowner, it’s likely you’ve heard talk about the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. initiative, and the effort being mounted by state Farm Bureau’s across America, in cooperation with the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), called Ditch the Rule.
Here’s what you need to know to take action.
What is the EPA proposing?
Puddles, ponds, ditches, ephemerals (land that looks like a small stream during heavy rain but isn’t wet most of the time) and isolated wetlands dot the nation’s farmland. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) on March 25 issued a proposed rule that would expand its regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to these types of land features and waters, giving the agencies the power to dictate land-use decisions and farming practices on or near them. The rule will make it more difficult to farm or change a farming operation to remain competitive and profitable.
Why should this matter to me?
If ditches and wet spots in fields are deemed “navigable waters,” many routine farming and ranching activities—such as building a fence, applying fertilizer, pulling weeds and spraying for weed and insect control—will be deemed to result in a “discharge” to those so-called “navigable waters.”
Activities that result in a “discharge” cannot legally go forward without the required permit. Having to wait for a permit to protect crops from pests and weeds will not work.
Ultimately, EPA will have control to deny a discharge permit and, in doing so, to restrict a farmer’s ability to farm. If permit coverage is obtained, permits often include paperwork and reporting requirements in addition to any requirements aimed at protecting water quality. Violations of these paperwork or reporting obligations carry the same potential penalties as unlawful “discharges”—up to $37,500 per violation per day—and may be enforced by EPA, the state or even interested citizens' groups.
What are AFBF, IFB and other state Farm Bureaus doing to fight this?
Farm Bureau will pursue our goal of stopping this initiative in the following ways:
Additionally, IFB has been holding webinars and equipping county Farm Bureau’s with resources to share information with members.
What can I do?
The most important thing you can do is file a comment and make your voice heard!
* The majority of this content was provided by AFBF.
For More Info Contact:
File a comment with the EPA by clicking here.
Visit AFBF's Go Social page for sample tweets.
Visit the IFB Facebook and Twitter pages to share and retweet.
Contact your county Farm Bureau for more resources like yard signs and bumper stickers.
Visit the official Ditch The Rule website.
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