Clements: The comment period on the revised definition of the Waters of the U.S. under the Clean Water Rule will close on April 15th. The American Farm Bureau Federation is encouraging farmers and ranchers to tell the Environmental Protection Agency how the proposed rule impacts them. Don Parrish, AFBF senior director of regulatory relations, says farmers and ranchers need a rule with clear definitions.
Parrish: I hope it means that farmers and ranchers are going to be able to understand what is regulated on their property when they drive out across it. Past definitions have been very complicated and very detailed in such a way that farmers had a real hard time understanding where the jurisdiction started and stopped on their property. We want this rule to be clear, we want it to be understandable, we want it to be simple, and I think we’re in the homestretch.
Clements: Parrish says three specific proposed changes greatly improve the rule for agriculture.
Parrish: The first is a very clear definition of tributary, one that excludes features like grass waterways and ditches that only have water in them during rainfall events. Those aren’t Waters of the U.S. It also does a good job in defining adjacent wetlands. We know that wetlands require three important criteria, those wetlands will be adjacent or directly abutting regulated tributaries. And it also does a nice job excluding prior converted cropland. It is very clear that those aren’t Waters of the U.S. under this proposal.
Clements: Parrish encourages farmers and ranchers to share their thoughts on the rule with EPA.
Parrish: Absolutely, and we would encourage them all to do this. Go to fb.org, take a stand for clean water and clear rules. It’s real easy to comment on this rule and I think it is something that is important for farmers and ranchers to be involved in.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.