AFBF President: Farmers Have Right to Personal Privacy

From AFBF President Zippy Duvall:

ZippyAgAgendaFarm Bureau and America’s livestock and poultry producers got some great news late last week. A federal appeals court agreed with us in a lawsuit filed against EPA over the agency’s release of farmers’ and ranchers’ personal information—details such as home address, GPS coordinates, telephone numbers and email addresses. About three years ago, EPA released the information about farmers and ranchers in 29 states. The release was in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by three activist groups. Farm Bureau and the National Pork Producers Council objected and sued, calling the release “an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

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PODCAST: Chesapeake Bay Regulatory Issues

Farmers in Virginia have been dealing with an increasing regulatory burden from federal agencies, particularly in the Chesapeake Bay region. Arkansas Farm Bureau’s environmental issues committee traveled to Virginia recently to see first-hand how farmers and ranchers there are responding to the regulatory challenges. In this conversation, Wilmer Stoneman, associate director of Governmental Affairs for Virginia Farm Bureau explains how Arkansas farmers and ranchers may prepare in the event they face similar regulatory issues in the future. Click here to listen: http://www.arfb.com/media-communications/press-releases/2016/podcast_chesapeake_bay_regulatory_issues/

 

Farm Bureau hails Supreme Court Victory

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AFBF President Zippy Duvall

A unanimous Supreme Court today ruled landowners may challenge the federal government whenever the Army Corps of Engineers tries improperly to regulate land with regulations designed to protect water.

Landowners have attempted many times to challenge Corps rulings known as jurisdictional determinations, but the government successfully argued that those determinations were not “final agency actions” and the lawsuits were dismissed. Now, when the Corps asserts jurisdiction over low spots that look more like land than water, it will have to do so with the knowledge that its jurisdictional determination can be tested in court. Continue reading

New AFBF Campaign: Stop the Flood of Regulation

Farmers are working to stop an effort by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate waterways Congress never intended the agency to regulate.

The American Farm Bureau Federation has launched its “Stop the Flood of Regulation” campaign because it believes the EPA is trying to improperly alter the Clean Water Act. That law gives the EPA the power to write rules to protect navigable waters.

Using what is called a guidance document, the EPA is seeking to take the word “navigable” out of the law, which would allow it to regulate even a roadside ditch that holds water after a heavy rain.

“A guidance document is supposed to be a non-binding policy document for field offices on how to implement current law and current policies,” said Cody Lyon, AFBF grassroots and advocacy director.

Of concern to Farm Bureau, Lyon said, is that “there’s uncertainty with how this guidance document can be implemented. This could be interpreted many different ways around the country or even many different ways within a state. For 40 years the Clean Water Act has done a great job. The problem is the guidance document goes beyond Congressional intent, and they’re also ignoring the Supreme Court precedents that have determined the definition of ‘navigable.’”

That could be problematic for farmers and ranchers, who fear that even a farm pond or ditch could now fall under EPA permitting regulations.
“We’re talking thousands, tens of thousands of dollars,” he said, because the guidance could affect “anything dealing with livestock operations, anything dealing with applications of pest management tools, anything dealing with wetlands, groundwater, runoff, storm water. You could start having a flood of regulations that start coming in just from this one guidance document.

“We’re trying to make sure we stop this flood of regulations at the very beginning, before it starts getting out of control.”

Farm Bureau is asking its members who farm to tell their Congressional representatives how hard the new rule could hit them, and to ask for support of H.R. 4965, a bill that would preserve existing U.S. water rights and responsibilities in the Clean Water Act.

AFBF President Bob Stallman said the EPA guidance document “improperly changes the law of the land,” and he asserted that, in issuing it, the EPA is bypassing the necessary public outreach required under the Administrative Procedures Act.

Please stay turned for more information and action alerts related to this campaign in the next few weeks. To sign up action alerts, please contact Kelly Pruitt at kprui@vafb.com or 804-290-1293 with your producer membership number.