July 17, 2014
Talladega County farmer Bob Luker inspects his corn crop after heavy rains flooded his fields last summer. The EPA’s proposed water rule would expand the definition of “waters of the U.S.” to include previously unregulated areas such as flooded fields, ponds, ditches and puddles.
Farmers now have until Oct. 20 to submit public comments on a revised water rule proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers.
The proposal would expand the definition of the “waters of the U.S.” to include previously unregulated areas including ponds, ditches and puddles. Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan submitted comments against the rule to the EPA’s Local Government Advisory Committee before the group’s July 10 meeting in Atlanta.
“Farmers, ranchers, landowners and business owners in Alabama are extremely concerned about this proposed rule,” McMillan said. “It appears the agencies are proposing to regulate every land feature that captures rainwater that eventually flows to a water historically considered navigable. Alabama farmers consider our state’s waters a blessing, but this rule would turn that into a curse of sorts.”
The proposed water rule was also debated by the U.S. House of Representative’s Science, Space and Technology Committee July 9, where U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, submitted a letter from Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell opposing the rule.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is currently on tour, hosting meetings in different states to explain the rule. McCarthy has been recorded saying opposition to the proposal is “silly” and “ludicrous.”
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the proposal could require farmers to obtain permits for everyday farm activities.
To submit a comment on the rule, visit AlfaFarmers.org, and click on the Legislative Action Center. AFBF has more resources and information on the rule’s negative impacts to agriculture online at DitchTheRule.Fb.org.