The National Corn Growers Association cautioned EPA on Tuesday about moving forward with a rule that could give the federal government sweeping regulatory power over America’s farmlands.
The testimony from Iowa farmer and NCGA President Chris Edgington comes as EPA considers a proposed rule revising the definition of “Waters of the United States,” under the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule would give the federal government leeway to assert jurisdiction over features that are remote from and carry only minor volumes of water to downstream navigable waters.
“The Clean Water Act simply does not allow the agencies to insert themselves into local and farmer land-use decisions in the manner that has been proposed,” Edgington said. “There is a limit under the Clean Water Act to the direct federal control over land-use decisions and policies. Such Clean Water Act policy properly respects the roles of each of the principal players in this system: the private landowner, citizen stakeholders, local government, state government, and the federal government.”
These reasonable limits give farmers greater certainty when making critical decisions to ensure they can successfully and sustainably produce and market crops, Edgington noted.
Edgington expressed support for EPA’s proposal to maintain the decades-old exclusion for prior converted cropland. However, he said he was disappointed the agency is not proposing to carry forward the Navigable Water Protection Rule’s definition of prior converted cropland, which was designed to improve clarity and consistency regarding the implementation of this exclusion.
The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register in December. The public comment period is now open and will close on February 7, 2022.