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The Ag Agenda

August 2012

Stop the Flood of Regulation


Bob Stallman
President
American Farm Bureau
By Bob Stallman
President, American Farm Bureau

Burdensome and unnecessary regulations are always a point of contention for farmers and ranchers, especially when we are being flooded with what seems to be never-ending, nonsensical rules. In keeping with the ebb and flow of bureaucracy, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers are planning an upheaval of the Clean Water Act (CWA) that would add more . . . you guessed it . . . rules and regulations to farms and ranches.

That’s why the American Farm Bureau Federation is leading the way to stop EPA and the Corps from literally regulating every drop of water on private landowners’ property. Through a nationwide grassroots campaign, we are engaging Farm Bureau members to “Stop the Flood of Regulation.”

A $30,000 Ditch

For some time, the EPA and Corps have been trying to remove the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act through what is called a “Guidance Document.” This would change the very meaning of the CWA to allow for such frivolous action as regulating a roadside ditch that holds water for only a few hours after a 4-inch rain.

The Guidance Document should be used to explain processes and policies of existing laws and regulations – not to expand or change the scope of current law. Importantly, a Guidance Document does not go through the rigors of the regulatory process that serve to protect the rights of the regulated community.

But, EPA and the Corps’ action to improperly use the Guidance Document to remove “navigable” bypasses congressional intent and ignores Supreme Court precedent. For the past 10 years, Congress has voted specifically and repeatedly to keep the term “navigable” in the CWA. We believe this Guidance Document is not only bad policy but is being implemented through a regulatory sleight of hand.

Farmers, ranchers and private landowners need to preserve the authority the CWA has granted states and localities for nearly 40 years and stop the deluge of regulations and permitting requirements that will likely result if the Guidance Document is finalized. The two agencies are piling on regulatory burdens with little regard for the costs for landowners. These costs, which could be upwards of $30,000, with increased permit requirements and reduced nutrient applications, are very real and have direct impacts on the farm.

Engagement v. Regulation

It’s important that every Farm Bureau member become engaged in pushing Congress and the administration to block the Guidance Document before the end of this Congress.

There are many ways to get involved. Visit the FBAct Insider page to learn more. For those who are social media savvy, follow @StoptheFlood on Twitter and post pictures of your soon to-be regulated ditches and puddles using the #stoptheflood hashtag, or “Like” the Stop the Flood of Regulation Facebook page, post your pictures and comments and get updates on the campaign.

It’s time to show Congress how the Guidance Document could cost farmers, ranchers and private property owners tens of thousands of dollars. It’s time to Stop the Flood of Regulation.