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26 January 2014 - Stop Unfair & Unrealistic Rules Affecting Agriculture

A week ago I shared with you the story of the Alt family from Old Fields, West Virginia, broiler farmers who are currently involved in litigation with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Well, this week I have what I consider to be another horror story involving the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. At one of the breakout sessions at Farm Bureau, Attorney Virginia Albrecht talked about the Clean Water Act and rules that are being written by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Let me share with you her concern over one of the rules dealing with the definition of ‘navigable’ waters. They want all ‘navigable’ waters to be under the control of the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. But, what is ‘navigable’ water? Would you believe it could be a dry ditch under the rules that are being prepared and considered?

There is a ranch in Arizona, for example, with a ditch that has had water in it only five times in five years, but the Army Corps of Engineers says it is navigable water and if you want to do anything to change the ditch, you must get a permit. You know how time consuming and how costly permits can be when you are dealing with the government. They don’t do anything in a timely fashion.

Under the rules, any ditch, stream or tributary on your farm, whether there is water in it or not, could be under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers. This means you couldn’t do anything to alter the ditch without a permit. But if you did the paper work and changed the ditch, even though there was no water in it, you would have to leave 100- foot buffer strips on either side of what was the ditch in order to be in compliance with rules that are laid out by our friends in the government. By people who I am convinced have never spent time working on a farm or ranch, yet they are making rules for people who spend a lifetime working to produce food, fiber, lumber and energy for all of us and have a better understanding of the land and water.

How can ‘navigable’ water be a ditch that has water in it only once or twice a year? When the comment period comes on this ruling by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, I hope you will share your thoughts and put a stop to this kind of unrealistic ruling. Until the comment period begins, bring it to the attention of your Congressmen and tell them they need to exercise more oversight on government agencies who write and enforce the rules.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.