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Mr. Chairman, Define ‘waters of the U.S.’

Published on 18 July 2014
The following are statements from the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry public hearing held on June 19.The committee took testimony on the EPA’s proposed interpretive rule to further define “waters of the U.S.” and how it would impact agricultural exemptions to the Clean Water Act.

“As a farmer, my willingness to implement voluntary conservation practices has been greatly diminished, despite my desire to improve and protect the waters on my farm. I’m not alone in my thinking, which means that if this interpretive rule remains in place, farmers and ranchers across the country will slow their adoption of conservation practices.”

Mr. Andy Fabin

Producer, Fabin Bros. Farms, Indiana, Pennsylvania; on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

“The National Corn Growers Association is concerned that the rule will, in effect, require producers to follow USDA-NRCS conservation practice standards when they carry out certain activities, even though many of the covered activities are long-used, normal farming practices commonly conducted for reasons unrelated to conservation and water quality goals … The question is: Will the practical consequence of the rule be that … farmers must follow closely the applicable NRCS technical standard any time they are engaged in one of these activities?”

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Mr. Chip Bowling
First Vice President, National Corn Growers Association, Newburg, Maryland

“Even if farmers and ranchers are able to comply with the complicated NRCS practice standards, such compliance does not insulate their land from … other regulatory impacts resulting from the agencies’ proposed broadened definition of ‘waters of the United States.’ In other words, while ‘normal farming exemptions’ exempt certain agricultural activities, it does not exempt or exclude any newly defined water from Clean Water Act jurisdiction.”

Mr. Don Parrish
Senior Director, Regulatory Relations, American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, D.C.

“There is no sector of the economy that cares more about water than agriculture. America’s farm and ranch families make decisions every day that help to protect and ensure our water resources. The interpretive rule will make those decisions and actions a little easier and produce benefits for farms and ranches, their communities and the nation as a whole.”

Mr. Robert Bonnie
Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment, USDA, Washington, D.C.

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“Conserving and protecting streams, wetlands and other waters is vitally important to Americans who hunt, fish and enjoy a wide array of other outdoor recreation. These activities will depend on clean water and healthy habitat, including wetlands. And these activities are more than traditions or hobbies – they drive the outdoor recreation economy in America, which totals hundreds of billions of dollars annually and supports millions of jobs.”

Mr. Scott Kovarovics
Executive Director, Izaak Walton League of America, Gaithersburg, Maryland

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