Parrish Finds WOTUS Creates a Snowball Effect in Threatening Future Generations of Ag ProducersWed, 13 Jan 2016 18:25:47 CST
The impact of the Waters of the U.S. rule is much more substantial than what agricultural producers may realize. American Farm Bureau Senior Director of Regulatory Relations Don Parrish said in the Federal Register the final WOTUS ruled totaled over 80 pages. He said there are things buried in the rule that will be enforced on farmers today, but also future generations. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also characterized WOTUS as a generation rule.
“We believe that and unfortunately it’s designed in a way just to get tighter and tighter as they implement more and more of this rule as time goes on," Parrish said.
Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays caught up with Parrish at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 97th Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida. Click or tap on the LISTENBAR below to listen to the full interview.
Parrish said WOTUS is riddled with ways that will catch farmers and will impact how they will farm land for generations to come. This includes farming practices like plowing. Parrish said with Congress not specifying how deep a farmer can plow, that's going to be interpreted differently across the country. Farmers could also get into trouble in changing farming practices. Generally EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers look at what farmers have been doing in the past. If farmers make changes, like growing different crops, that could change farming practices. Parrish said that’s how farmers are going to see WOTUS ratchet up with additional regulations. He said overtime EPA will be able to litigate and enforce regulations farmer by farmer. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be the lead agency on WOTUS, because they will implement this regulation. He said its clear enforcement will take place out in the field.
Congress will vote this week on the Congressional Review Act to send a message to President Obama. American Farm Bureau supports the measure. Parrish said this looks to be a bipartisan vote, because EPA messed up the details of the rule, as well as the process. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has called the WOTUS rule “covert propaganda”.
“Just let those terms sink in just a minute,” Parrish said. “That’s our government - covert propaganda. We can’t have that in terms of producing rules that we all have to live by. We ought to be open and transparent. The agencies need to do that.”
Parrish calls the WOTUS rule a very political hot button. Many environmentalists and concerned citizens supported the measure because it touted for the need for clean water. In reading the 371 single spaced typed pages, Parrish said the people that supported WOTUS never looked at the details.
“Everybody supports clean water and I think everybody could sign a petition or a campaign to say we support clean water, but you know what, we don’t support clean water at giving up our liberties and property rights and particularly the way in which this rule deals with those things internally,” Parrish said. “So you know if people took the time to read the regulation, I think they would have really questioned the federal government expanding their authority. Their authority over individuals and property rights beyond anything we have ever seen before.”
Parrish said WOTUS goes beyond anything authorized by Congress. American Farm Bureau will continue to push back against WOTUS. Parrish said that may include introducing new legislation that clarifies agricultural exemptions and making sure the WOTUS rule is not implemented until after it goes through court system.
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