The U.S. EPA and Army Corps of Engineers announced on Jan. 31 they are withdrawing and rewriting the Waters of the United States rule, a move celebrated by Farm Bureau.
Farm Bureau has fought against the rule since it was proposed in 2015. That version of the rule, according to AFBF President Zippy Duvall, “would have put a stranglehold on ordinary farming and ranching by treating dry ditches, swales and low spots on farm fields just like flowing waters.”
The decision has delayed the effective date of the rule by two years, during which it is expected they will significantly lessen its potential negative impacts on farmers.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said, “EPA is taking action to reduce confusion and provide certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers.” Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Ryan Fisher added, “We are committed to transparency as we execute the Clean Water Act Section 404 regulatory program.”
Duvall said, “Without today’s action, countless farmers and ranchers, as well as other landowners and businesses, would risk lawsuits and huge penalties for activities as common and harmless as plowing a field. America’s farmers value clean water as much as anyone, and they work hard every day to protect it. But they deserve clear rules, too.”