Although members of congress and agricultural industry groups admittedly have not fully digested the nearly 300-page Waters of the U.S. rule issued May 27 by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, opposition to the rule was immediate.

While the American Farm Bureau Federation announced it was thoroughly analyzing the rule, AFBF President Bob Stallman issued a statement. “Based on EPA’s aggressive advocacy campaign in support of its original proposed rule—and the agency’s numerous misstatements about the content and impact of that proposal—we find little comfort in the agency’s assurances that our concerns have been addressed in any meaningful way,” he said.

Similar announcements came from commodity groups and various agricultural associations. One of the most pessimistic comments came from the Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE).

“RISE cannot support the Clean Water Rule published today [May 27] because it will negatively impact public health and safety significantly. The rule creates an overreach of federal power by requiring permits for pesticide application near any collected water, no matter how small or contained.”

Congressional members who have supported the belief that a new rule would be overreach negatively impacting agriculture were just as negative after the rule was released as before the rule was issued. Comments against the Obama administration for encouraging such rulemaking have been rampant from members of Congress representing large agricultural constituencies.   

House Committee on Agriculture Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) and Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee Chairman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-Pa.) released the following statement claiming the “rule further obscures the original intent of the Clean Water Act (CWA) by significantly expanding waters subject to federal jurisdiction.
“America’s farmers and ranchers deserve a government that will review and address their concerns. Instead, the process by which this rule was established ignored them. Even input from the states was ignored, clearly displaying the arrogant, ‘government knows best’ attitude ever-present in this administration.
“Through hearings, letters, and public forums we have repeatedly asked the administration to work with stakeholders to achieve the goals of the CWA rather than act as a schoolyard bully. Our requests were dismissed in favor of the expansion of federal authority despite bipartisan opposition from Congress and the public.
“It is ironic that the agencies’ defense of this rule is that it provides clarity to producers regarding what is and is not regulated. These hollow assurances hold little comfort for farmers and ranchers who will face steep civil fines for any violation.

“This is why the House voted overwhelmingly in favor of H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015. We must enact this legislation that forces EPA and the Corps to pull this regulation and do as they should have from the beginning: work with states and local stakeholders to develop a new and proper set of recommendations.”