The vigilant outreach efforts of Farm Bureau members across the nation are making a difference, with key votes in the Senate this week delivering a resounding message that the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule is flawed in both substance and process.
“Senators indicated they will not tolerate outlandish regulatory actions that disregard established law, and by their action put federal regulators on notice that the rule is simply unacceptable,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman in a statement. Further, said Stallman, “The Senate action amplifies the spirit our farmers and ranchers have conveyed over the past year of the need to ditch the egregious WOTUS rule. We thank senators for their understanding that America’s farm and ranch families care deeply about clean water and their recognition that the ill-advised WOTUS rule is flawed to the core.”
It can be difficult to keep energized about an issue when it drags on for months. That is certainly the case with Farm Bureau’s opposition to the EPA’s and Corps of Engineers’ Waters of the U.S. rule. Farm Bureau members and many others around the nation were mobilized like never before during last year’s comment period on the proposed rule, and their message was loud and clear: DITCH THE RULE!
Despite efforts by some to use every tweet, robo-email and signature on a petition as a bona fide comment, about two-thirds of the approximately 20,000 substantive comments were in opposition to the WOTUS proposed rule. That is outstanding! As proud as I am of what Farm Bureau members have accomplished—and I have never been prouder—we still have a lot of work to do.
The agencies most likely will release the final rule in just a few weeks, after which it will be reviewed by other federal agencies. While the energy and urgency of the comment period ended last November, we must use this relatively silent time between then and the coming final rule to continue letting Congress know that we need their help, because EPA is not addressing agriculture’s concerns. There is legislation in the works that would send EPA and the Corps back to the drawing board on WOTUS, and we need members of Congress to support farmers and ranchers by supporting that legislation, as well as other efforts to prevent WOTUS from going forward as originally proposed.
“Keep calm and carry on,” was the message of a famous British poster during World War II, and Americans lately have enjoyed adapting that in a seemingly endless variety of ways: “Keep calm and farm on” is my personal favorite. I am reminded of that because we need to do the exact opposite on the WOTUS issue. We can’t afford to keep calm.