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Source: Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City

U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will travel to the nation's heartland on July 10 to present a major policy speech before the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City. The topic will be the Administration's proposed rules defining waters of the United States (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

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The proposed rules, which were published for public comment by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, have proved hotly controversial within the nation's agricultural community.

The federal agencies emphasize that the proposal seeks to provide regulatory clarity after significant uncertainty following two Supreme Court decisions. According to the EPA, the proposed rule preserves existing CWA exemptions and exclusions for agricultural activities. Additionally, the agencies, in coordination with USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service, will now exempt 56 established NRCS conservation practices from the CWA Section 404 dredged or fill permitting requirements, if they occur in waters covered by the CWA.

Leading agricultural groups, including the Kansas and Missouri Farm Bureaus, Kansas Ag Alliance, and others, believe the proposed rules represent Government overreach.

The Kansas Ag Alliance says the proposed rules would require farmers to obtain permits for routine practices such as applying commercial fertilizer or spreading organic compost.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association worries that the proposed rules would mean ranchers would have to get permission anytime they needed to expand, do maintenance or perform routine activities.

The American Farm Bureau Federation says the proposal would expand regulation to cover puddles, ponds, ditches, ephemerals (land that looks like a small stream during heavy rain but isn't wet most of the time) and isolated wetlands that dot the nation's farmland, giving the agencies the power to dictate land-use decisions and farming practices in or near them.

Administrator McCarthy will be sharing the Administration's views on why the proposed rules are needed and will be answering questions about the implications of the rules. RSVP today to attend this discussion of one the top issues facing agriculture today.

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