To make IFB’s campaign against proposed EPA rule effective, action from individual farmers is needed
Norman Voyles Jr. of Morgan County fears that seasonal creeks, such as this one that intermittently flows through one of his pastures into a semi-permanent stream, could be subject to extensive regulation under a new rule proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “That’s the real fear that we’ve got – that it could be so broadly applied,” he said. Photos by Kathleen M. Dutro.
Indiana Farm Bureau, the American Farm Bureau Federation and other state Farm Bureaus, have begun their offensive against a proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule that could radically redefine what can be considered “waters of the United States” and greatly expand the EPA’s jurisdiction over farmland and other private lands.
Among other things, the rule would expand federal control over land features such as ditches and areas of agricultural land that are wet only during storms.
The comment period is currently set to expire on July 21. AFBF has asked that this comment period be extended another 90 days, but that extension hasn’t been granted as yet, said Kyle Cline, IFB national government relations policy advisor.
“We need to proceed on the assumption that the comment period will end on July 21,” he said.
An important part of that offensive is making sure that the EPA and members of Congress know the effect that this proposed rule will have on individual farmers. This is why IFB is encouraging farmers who believe they could be affected by the rule to submit comments to EPA.
A comparison of EPA’s interpretation of the law vs. actual on-farm impacts, as well as other materials, will be available on IFB’s campaign website, www.infarmbureau.org/waterule. Members are urged to visit frequently for updates and information to assist them in taking a stand against the EPA.
Cline said that those who have an interest in this but need help or advice can call or email Cline, 317-692-7845, firstname.lastname@example.org, or IFB senior policy advisor and counsel Justin Schneider, 317-692-7835, email@example.com.
Other useful tactics include:
Submitting photos of questionable water features to Cline or Schneider. IFB, AFBF and other state Farm Bureaus are collecting such photos in order to demonstrate the scope of EPA’s expansion of the definition of waters of the U.S. Of particular use are before-and-after photos of ditches and swales, ponding in driveways, water flowing in gullies on hillsides (preferably with a ditch or creek in the background) and flooded lawns.
Norman Voyles Jr. says that despite his concerns about the proposed rule, he wouldn’t want anybody to think he’s somehow against clean water. “My livestock needs clean water, my family needs clean water, my neighbors need clean water.” But, he added, the way to keep the water clean isn’t a one-size-fits-all federal mandate. It’s much better if individuals can work with their local and state authorities.
Using social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs, to raise the profile of this issue by posting photos and talking points.
Contacting your member of Congress to ask him or her to submit comments to the EPA docket.Organize a toolshed meeting or other informal gathering so that members of Congress, or their staff, can discuss this issue face to face with farmers.
“The proposed rule really impacts every type of farm in every state,” Cline said.
“EPA is making a big PR effort to get people to calm down,” Cline said. “But the agency has given us no assurance that normal farming activities will be exempt, even such ordinary practices as building a fence, tillage and spraying. The proposed rule, as it’s written, is all encompassing,” he added.