IFB president recommends changes to WOTUS definition

Guebert and dozens of others testified Tuesday during EPA's listening session.

10-19_ifb _president _recommends _changes _wotus _definition _1_636438452993000000

Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. made six recommendations for the revised definition of WOTUS during a teleconference with the U.S. EPA on Tuesday. (Illinois Farm Bureau file photo)

By Deana Stroisch

Illinois farmers need a definition of “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) that provides clarity and certainty – a definition understood without an attorney, engineer or consultant, Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. recommended Tuesday to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“I want to be very clear in this statement: Illinois farmers demand a better version of the WOTUS rule,” he said. “Illinois farmers demand a version of the WOTUS rule that allows us to continue to provide the world with food, fiber and fuel, while also continuously improving the way we farm in order to benefit the environment.”

Related: IFB explains farmer's 'bureaucratic nightmare' in D.C. Click here

Guebert joined dozens of others testifying during the agriculture sector’s WOTUS listening session. In all, EPA will conduct 10 teleconferences to hear recommendations about how to revise the definition of WOTUS.

Guebert made the following recommendations for the revised definition of WOTUS:

- Ephemeral features should not be included.

- Isolated areas, such as the low spot in the middle of a corn field, should not be included.

- Ditches should not be included.

- Wetlands should only be WOTUS when all three criteria are met – soil, vegetation and hydrology – and clarification should be made in the new rule.

- The exemption for prior converted cropland (PCC) should be updated, and the new rule should make it clear that land remains PCC even when it is no longer used for farming purposes. EPA and the Corps should respect the PCC designations made by NRCS, and NRCS should stand up and defend their PCC determinations as well.

- Regulations interpreting the Section 404 “dredge and fill” permit exemption for “normal farming, ranching and silviculture activities” should be revised. The agencies’ current regulations narrow the exemption to only include activities conducted at “established and ongoing” farm, ranch or forestry operations.

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