Farm Bureau campaigning against Biden changes to WOTUS rule
ATLANTA — American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall on Sunday urged members to put the same level of energy into making their voices heard on the Biden administration’s proposed changes to the Trump Waters of the United States rule that they put into their successful campaign this year against changes to the stepped-up basis provision in estate tax law.
The Biden administration has withdrawn the Trump era rule and proposed to go back to an earlier rule that Farm Bureau maintains would bring the hand of the federal government’s Environmental Protection Agency or state governments acting on behalf of EPA onto farmers’ land.
In his speech to the Farm Bureau convention, Duvall said, “At Farm Bureau our strength is our grassroots, and you shared your stories by the thousands to protect tax provisions that keep us economically sustainable.
“We retold your stories, conducted impact analysis, and turned our tax experts into teachers to help reporters understand exactly what was at stake.
“And, it worked. Lawmakers heard us loud and clear, and we succeeded in protecting stepped-up basis for the survival of our family farms.
“We need that same energy and passion when it comes to WOTUS. It is critical that this administration understands that we should not need a team of lawyers and consultants just to farm our land.
“Our team can help you make your voice heard on WOTUS. Visit our AFBF booth at the trade show and get engaged today,” Duvall said.
Duvall also directed members to a link they could use to send their comments to EPA.
The link said, “Under the commonsense NWPR (Navigable Waters Protection Rule), farmers and ranchers have delivered positive environmental benefits.”
“On Dec. 7, 2021, the EPA and the Army Corps proposed a new rule that would reverse the NWPR and bring back the troubling pre-2015 regulatory regime.
“Farm Bureau is urging EPA to recognize the burden that this overreaching regulation places on farmers and ranchers, and to keep the term ‘navigable’ in the Clean Water Act regulations.
“Once again, we need you to be involved! Write to protect the NWPR and prevent a return to regulatory uncertainty. Send your comments to EPA today!”
During a policy session with Farm Bureau Washington staff, Courtney Briggs, a senior director of congressional relations, said that Farm Bureau liked the Trump rule because it created a clear line between “what is in and what is out.”
The Biden proposal would bring back the significant nexus text which allows agencies to aggregate waters together to establish what a farmer would need to ask the Army Corps of Engineers for permission to take certain actions, Briggs said.
The Biden administration says the rule would not have a significant impact on farmers but the terms are vague, Briggs said. It would make an ephemeral stream, which EPA defines as a stream that has flowing water only during, and for a short duration after, precipitation events in a typical year, back under regulation if the piece of land such as a ditch would have a significant impact on downstream waters, she said.
Farmers who do not comply could be fined fined $37,000 per day, or go to jail, Briggs said, urging attendees to send their comments to EPA before the comment period ends on Feb. 7.
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