Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

The New Clean Water Rule

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Farmers and ranchers care about clean water and preserving the land, which are essential to producing healthy food and fiber and ensuring future generations can do the same. That’s why we support the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.
—  AFBF President Zippy Duvall

Why a New Clean Water Rule?

  • Farmers and ranchers value clean water, and every day they are working to leave the land, air and water in better shape for their families, neighbors and future generations.
  • Because clean water is a top priority, farmers and ranchers welcome the clarity and commonsense the Navigable Waters Protection Rule provides.
  • This new rule does not change who oversees permanent waterways, such as lakes, rivers and streams and ensures states can enforce their own robust environmental laws.

What Is the New Clean Water Rule?

The Navigable Waters Protection Rule replaces the 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule and defines federal water jurisdiction while continuing to protect water quality.  The rule will make water and land protection, management and planning more efficient and effective by drawing clearer lines between areas subject to federal versus state jurisdiction and clarifying that usually dry areas should no longer be considered federally regulated waters.

Farmers’ Commitment

  • Farmers advocate and support common-sense rules that don’t require a team of consultants and lawyers to navigate.
  • Farmers play a leading role in protecting our nation’s wetlands. Over the last 15 years, the number of acres enrolled in wetland and buffer practices under the Conservation Reserve Program has more than doubled (from 2.5 million acres to 5.3 million acres).
  • More than 140 million acres of U.S. farmland are used for voluntary conservation efforts and wildlife habitats—an area equal to the states of California and New York combined.

Get Your Clean Water Facts

  • The Safe Drinking Water Act is the primary law that protects all public drinking water supplies across the U.S.  Changes to Clean Water Act regulations do not reduce Safe Drinking Water Act protections.
  • The Clean Water Act regulates our nation’s “navigable waters”—also called “waters of the United States.” It imposes huge fines or even criminal liability for putting almost anything into those waters without a federal permit. 
  • The Clean Water Act recognizes that some surface waters should be regulated by the federal government, while some should be protected under state law. The proposed new clean water rule seeks to clarify which waters are subject to which type of protection. In particular, it preserves state authority over many land features that only carry water when it rains. 

Farm Bureau is a member of the Waters Advocacy Coalition

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