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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Waters of the US Update

Report by KyCorn Intern Ryan Halligan
The Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts (KACD) state convention was held last week in Louisville. KyCorn Programs Director Adam Andrews and intern Ryan Halligan attended the convention.

National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) President Earl Garber of Louisiana spoke about the EPA's proposed clarification of Waterways of the United States (WOTUS) that could impact farmers all across the United States. This potential rule would redefine the waterways in the United States and could be defined so that regulation could impact farmers and ranchers. This proposal could regulate farm ponds, streams, wetland areas, and "ditches." There is a need for clarification of "ditches" and other wetland areas on farms. This clarification could really impact how jurisdiction and regulation impacts farmers. Either way the impacts on farmers could be increased regulation on all fronts.

There are several bills in Congress which would prevent this regulation from going into effect. We are unsure, however, of their progress at this time. The biggest problem is that this regulation could be left up to interpretation.

Kentucky Corn Growers is your voice in Frankfort and in Washington D.C. and is fighting on your behalf on these new potential regulations as well as others that could potentially rise up.

NCGA Report

NCGA's review of the proposed rule and the Interpretive Rule showed that neither provide the clarity needed and both greatly expanded the scope of the Act. NCGA has repeatedly stated its opposition to both rules in their current form. In June, NCGA First Vice President Chip Bowling testified before the Conservation, Energy and Forestry Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee on the proposed Interpretive Rule. His testimony strongly stated that the rule is unworkable for farmers.

Also in June, NCGA President Martin Barbre and Bowling met with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on this issue. The meeting was held at her request; during it, she listened to the officers' listing of concerns regarding the rules. She had a better understanding of these concerns and repeatedly stated she wants to work with NCGA on this issue in the coming months. The meeting was very direct and candid.

On July 7, NCGA submitted formal comments on the Interpretive Rule. NCGA shares the serious concerns raised regarding these rules with our partners in other agriculture organizations. We have been, are and will be working with them and others to achieve significant changes to the rules. While some organizations have been very vocal and confrontational in their approach, NCGA has chosen to work through the rulemaking process and to take Administrator McCarthy at her word and to engage with her and others at EPA to make sure the rules work for farmers.

Recommended Action: NCGA urges the EPA to withdraw the proposed Implementation Rule as it continues to work with the agriculture community on this issue.

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