By Zippy Duvall
President, American Farm Bureau Federation
A couple of events this week might seem unrelated but, actually, have a lot to do with each other.
The first is the president’s Executive Order withdrawing the current Waters of the U.S. rule. No one worked harder to “ditch the rule” than farmers and ranchers—Farm Bureau members in particular. That’s why I was so proud to join President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt at the White House yesterday for the signing.
While we need certainty concerning which waters are “federal” and therefore subject to all the regulations and control that entails, we do not need a rule that sweeps nearly every pond and ditch across America, and in some cases even dry land, into the category of navigable or significantly connected waters. That level of regulatory overreach could take millions of acres out of agricultural production and expose more farmers to permitting fees, federal penalties and lawsuits just for farming their land. Farm Bureau members know that we can improve water quality without overregulating agriculture. We’ve been doing that for decades, mainly through voluntary conservation.
The second event is the American Farm Bureau’s annual Advocacy Conference taking place in the Washington area this week. Nearly 600 Farm Bureau members are swarming Capitol Hill after getting updates on top legislative issues and learning the latest in advocacy tactics. This grassroots engagement is the core of Farm Bureau’s influence and it’s what got us to the finish line on the WOTUS issue. Farm Bureau members engaged like never before on WOTUS.
This week, we have confirmation that we can accomplish great things through grassroots action and engagement. Now, it is time for us to engage on a slate of other issues: regulatory process reform, tax reform, farm policy, ag labor and international trade. Will we have the kind of success on these issues that we’ve had on WOTUS? Only if we continue to ENGAGE!
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.