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AFB, MOFB Slam Biden WOTUS Rule, Impacts on Farming, Farmers

Missouri Farm Bureau President Garrett Hawkins testifying for Farm Bureau, told Congress this week that producers are “extremely disappointed” in the Biden WOTUS rule that will only make farming more costly and difficult.

Hawkins and Farm Bureau see the final WOTUS rule as regulatory ‘overreach’ hurting farming and discouraging future farmers. Hawkins; “The new rule will greatly expand the federal government’s reach over private property, by allowing them to assert jurisdiction over ephemeral drainages such as ditches, swales and low spots on a farm field. The use of significant nexus test allows the agencies to aggregate waters together, and the reliance on the vague terms provides the agencies to reach whatever conclusion they please.”

Unlike the earlier Trump Navigable Waters Protection Rule, Hawkins says; “What our farmers and ranchers appreciated about the Navigable Water Protection Rule was that, for the first time since ’72, that there were actual ‘bright lines.’”

AFBF feels only wetlands abutting “waters of the U.S.” should require permits, while the Biden rule’s lack of clarity sets producers up for huge permitting costs, heavy fines or even jail.

Hawkins; “It’s almost the notion that we’re ‘guilty until proven innocent.’ And, while folks talk about the exemptions that agriculture has had, I wouldn’t be testifying today if those longstanding exemptions were tight enough that we weren’t having farmers embroiled in litigation, not just in Missouri, but all around the country.”

Calling it impossible to know if a farm feature is a WOTUS and if tilling and other routine farming practices will trigger harsh penalties without a permit—a mess again before the Supreme Court in Sackett vs. EPA. Hawkins; “American Farm Bureau, Missouri Farm Bureau, numerous other organizations and over 200 members of Congress, urged the agencies to halt this rulemaking because of this.”

Hawkins told the House Water Subcommittee in his written testimony, it’s highly likely the High Court will prevent the Agencies from using the significant nexus test.

Hawkins also urges farmers and ranchers to stand up against WOTUS. He said; “I encourage folks to work with their State Farm Bureaus. This is a team effort, and as, I think, historically there’s been a broad coalition led by agriculture but covering the gamut of all industry who are standing up and saying we all support clean water, but we also need clear rules, and in this case the Biden rule misses the mark yet again.”

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