Industry Engagement Encouraged for Proposed WOTUS Review

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Farm groups are continuing their efforts to work with federal authorities on the United States Waters Rule Overhaul (WOTUS) process. Industry organizations have expressed concerns over the replacement of 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 in December. Groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) encourage industry members to submit comments on the proposal by February 7.

“We need to help policymakers and the public understand the impact of irresponsible regulation, tying the hands of the very people who stock our pantries,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “And we must persevere in our efforts to ensure that the regulations that keep our water clean also respect farmers, ranchers and small business owners.”

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

“The NCBA strongly supports the committee’s recommendation to develop a clear and limited WOTUS definition and to protect key exemptions for common agricultural characteristics,” Scott Yager, NCBA’s chief environmental adviser, said in a press release. “With EPA’s convoluted approach to soliciting public comment and stakeholder views on WOTUS, NCBA encourages EPA to listen to the recommendation of its own advisory committee, and the recommendation is clear: Farmers and ranchers need clear rules and regulatory certainty to succeed.”

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