During Ohio Farm Bureau’s annual meeting, members signed cards expressing their concern about the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. Nearly 2,500 cards were sent to members of Congress about the rule, which significantly expands Clean Water Act jurisdiction. The cards were sent to U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochoran, Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers.
Experts say the WOTUS rule could threaten farmers’ livelihoods with nearly all of the nation’s total acreage under EPA scrutiny. American Farm Bureau has been at the forefront in opposition to the rule, rolling out an aggressive “Ditch the Rule” campaign that called on members at the national, state and local levels to take action against the WOTUS rule.
Recently, Farm Bureau has called on Congress to prohibit implementation of the WOTUS rule after a finding by the U.S. Government Accountability Office that EPA broke the law with its social media and grassroots lobbying campaign advocating for its own rule.
“The GAO findings vindicate those, like the American Farm Bureau Federation, who have claimed all along that EPA’s tactics advocating for this rule stepped past the bounds of proper agency rulemaking,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman.
Meanwhile, a new video produced by American Farm Bureau highlights the struggles a California farm family has encountered with federal water regulations. The farmer was told he broke the law by plowing his land.
“Anyone who’s being told not to worry about the new Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, they should be thinking about this case,” said California Farm Bureau member John Duarte.
The Army Corps of Engineers told Duarte, a fourth-generation tree and wheat grower, that he broke the law simply by plowing his land in rural Tehama County. EPA has said farmers don’t need to worry about the rule because normal farming is exempt from regulation, but what’s happening to the Duarte family shows how the EPA and the Corps are working around that exemption.
“The Corps and EPA aren’t trying to micromanage farmers. They’re trying to stop farmers,” Duarte said. “They’re trying to turn our farmland into habitat preservation. They’re simply trying to chase us off of our land.”