Industry Engagement Encouraged for Proposed WOTUS Revision

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Water

Agricultural groups are continuing efforts to work with federal officials on the process for reworking the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. Industry organizations have raised concerns about replacing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule that was implemented by the Trump Administration. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed a new water rule back in December. Groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) are encouraging industry members to submit comments on the proposal before February 7.

“We must help policymakers and the public understand the impact of irresponsible regulation, tying the hands of the very people stocking our pantries,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “And we must remain persistent in our effort to make sure regulations that keep our water clean also respect farmers, ranchers, and small business owners.”

WOTUS revision

The EPA’s Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Committee (FRRCC) recently released recommendations on the best course of action pertaining to a WOTUS revision. The 32-member committee produced a 46-page report outlining several priorities for consideration for EPA Administrator Michael Regan. One of the recommendations is the development of a clear definition of WOTUS which can easily be understood by industry members. FRRCC also suggests WOTUS exemptions for common farm features such as canals, ponds, farm ditches and other isolated features. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has issued its support of the recommendations made by the FRRCC.

“NCBA strongly supports the committee’s recommendation to develop a clear and limited WOTUS definition and protect key exemptions for common agricultural features,” NCBA Chief Environmental Counsel, Scott Yager said in a press release. “With the EPA’s convoluted approach to soliciting public comments and stakeholder perspectives on WOTUS, NCBA encourages the EPA to listen to its own advisory committee’s recommendation, and the recommendation is clear: farmers and ranchers need clear rules and regulatory certainty to be successful.”