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Farm Bureau testifies in favor of new water rule

California Farm Bureau Federation Ag Alert, Issue June 19, 2019

The latest Trump administration proposal to define which waters can be regulated by the federal government and which by state and local authorities represents a vast improvement from previous efforts, according to congressional testimony on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Wyoming Farm Bureau President Todd Fornstrom testified for AFBF before the U.S. Senate subcommittee on Fisheries, Waters and Wildlife, regarding an Environmental Protection Agency proposal.

Expensive professional services needed to comply with the Clean Water Act, Fornstrom said, too often make it impossible for farmers to use their own land to its fullest.

"Farm Bureau cannot overstate the importance of a rule that draws clear lines of jurisdiction that farmers and ranchers can understand without needing to hire armies of consultants and lawyers," Fornstrom told the subcommittee.

He said violating the Clean Water Act carries "significant fines and penalties."

"Historically, farmers and ranchers have chosen to forfeit full use and enjoyment of their land, rather than go down the onerous and expensive path of seeking CWA 404 permits," Fornstrom testified. "The cost to obtain a general permit can exceed tens of thousands of dollars, and individual permits can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Farmers and ranchers know these costs exceed the value of their land, which leads them to simply stay out of the regulatory quagmire by forgoing the use of their land without compensation."

Fornstrom praised the latest proposed rule for preserving the CWA partnership among federal, state and local regulators.

"The federal government cannot and should not regulate every single wet feature in every community," he said. "By drawing clear lines between waters of the U.S. and waters of the state, the proposal strengthens the cooperative federalism Congress envisioned and that the Supreme Court has long recognized as fundamental to the Clean Water Act."

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.



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