The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture unanimously called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule during their annual meeting in September 2014. The action item also urged the EPA and the Army Corps to collaborate with state departments of agriculture and other stakeholders on the appropriate scope of federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction.
“NASDA overwhelmingly voted last week to support having the EPA reconsider this regulation,” said Jim Barbee, director of the Nevada Department of Agriculture. “We are encouraging the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work directly with the state and Nevada’s agricultural producers on the scope of the federal Clean Water Act.”
The proposed WOTUS rule would allow the EPA and the Army Corps to regulate puddles, ponds, ditches, ephemerals and isolated wetlands, giving the agencies power to dictate land-use decisions and farming practices in or near these land features. Although the agencies claim that farming would be exempt from enforcement of the regulation, the rule provides farmers no protection for tasks such as fence building, weed control and fertilizer application.
NASDA’s vote in favor of asking the EPA and Army Corps to reconsider the WOTUS rule is a promising step for farmers and ranchers in Nevada who would be detrimentally affected by the rule if it were to pass.
“We appreciate NASDA’s effort to call on both agencies to withdraw the WOTUS rule,” Nevada Farm Bureau Federation President Hank Combs said. “The support of other associations like NASDA continues to encourage Congress to prevent the EPA from enforcing this rule.”
Other efforts to prevent the EPA and Army Corps from enacting the WOTUS rule include the passing of H.R. 5078 in the U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 9, 2014. H.R. 5078 prohibits both agencies from developing, finalizing, adopting, implementing, applying, administering or enforcing the proposed WOTUS rule. The resolution is currently in the Senate awaiting a vote.