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RSS By: Chip Flory, Pro Farmer

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More than ag upset with WOTUS

Jul 18, 2014

Pro Farmer Extra

- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter -

July 18, 2014

Today's perspective is by Pro Farmer News Editor Meghan Pedersen and Washington Consultant Jim Wiesemeyer.

More than ag interests upset with WOTUS

The waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule that tries to spell out the scope of the Clean Water Act remains under siege. The ag industry, lawmakers and environmental interests have all taken issue with components of WOTUS and its accompanying interpretive rule that defines 56 ag practices exempt from permitting requirements. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy has expressed surprise at the level of concern generated about the interpretive rule and has indicated she may be willing to pull it back. But the administration says her agency needs time to address objections to the rule. It is increasingly apparent EPA and the Army Corps would have saved face and headache if they had consulted stakeholders and USDA prior to releasing the rules.

Ag interests have expressed worries that voluntary measures approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) would become mandatory under the interpretive rule, while environmental groups are unhappy about the farmer exemptions from dredge-and-fill permitting requirements. Groups like the Association of State Wetlands Managers (ASWM) say some of the practices that are now exempt from permitting could violate state water quality standards if they are practiced without oversight.

Lawmakers have also taken action on the matter. Provisions in the House’s Energy and Water spending bills would block the proposed rule for one year and would broaden ag exemptions to the law’s Section 404 permitting requirements. A House panel advanced a separate bill that would block implementation of the proposed rule and would repeal the interpretive rule. The measure would also require EPA to consult with state and local officials on the issue and report recommendations for a consensus proposal to Congress.

Pressure from all sides is mounting, especially on the interpretive rule. This may increase odds EPA will pull it.

Follow Pro Farmer Editorial Director Chip Flory on Twitter: @ChipFlory

To see more of what Pro Farmer has to offer, be sure to visit

EPA late to the party on educating about WOTUS

Jul 11, 2014

Pro Farmer Extra

- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter -

July 11, 2014

Ag interests press EPA on WOTUS

Pressure is building from major ag groups and farm-state lawmakers for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to alter its Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. Ag interests are concerned Section 404 permitting requirements would not be exempt under the accompanying interpretive rule unless farmers adhere to standards set by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy met with farmers, ranchers and other ag interests last week in an effort to ease concerns raised about WOTUS and the interpretive rule, which the agency insists are non-binding, voluntary measures. McCarthy signaled farmers and others have raised legitimate concerns and also indicated there is a willingness to pull back the interpretive rule.

Pro Farmer Washington Consultant Jim Wiesemeyer says, “If EPA and McCarthy had taken as much time to educate and consult with ag interests before WOTUS and the interpretive rule, as they are trying to do now, they would be a lot further along in the process. Trust is hard to restore after so much distrust on this issue. That distrust precedes McCarthy.”

Farm bill implementation issues

Crop insurance and dairy program provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill were key issues discussed during a House Agriculture General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee hearing last week. Lawmakers peppered USDA Undersecretary Michael Scuse on why the Risk Management Agency is currently not planning to implement Actual Production History adjustment provisions until the 2016 crop year. Lawmakers also urged USDA to give dairy producers some basic information on the new dairy program while details are developed. Scuse pledged to see how USDA can address lawmakers’ concerns.


Follow Pro Farmer Editorial Director Chip Flory on Twitter: @ChipFlory

To see more of what Pro Farmer has to offer, be sure to visit

Still Waiting on Washington to Act

Jun 20, 2014

Pro Farmer Extra

- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter -

June 20, 2014

Final 2014 RFS may come ‘late fall'

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not likely release final rules on the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volume requirements until “late fall” this year, according to our sources. Ironically, one source says the 2014 final rule details could come out at or near the time EPA is required by law to announce the 2015 RFS volume details. Contacts continue to signal the ethanol volume requirement will likely be 13.6 billion gallons, with biodiesel at 1.28 billion gallons.


Permanent tax extensions mulled

Lawmakers from both parties and both chambers note a push is on to extend some lapsed tax incentive extenders permanently, such as Section 179 equipment expensing. The biodiesel tax incentive extension could be one that is not extended permanently but would still get a retroactive extension through 2015. Several biodiesel industry stakeholders have told lawmakers and congressional staff they are continuing to produce biodiesel on the expectation the incentive will be extended retroactively. If not, there will be significant financial implications for some.


Follow Pro Farmer Editorial Director Chip Flory on Twitter: @ChipFlory

To see more of what Pro Farmer has to offer, be sure to visit

‘Waters of the U.S.’ defense met with skepticism

Jun 13, 2014

Pro Farmer Extra

- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter -

June 13, 2014

‘Waters of the U.S.’ defense met with skepticism

Attempts to correct “misinformation” about the proposed waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule as part of the Clean Water Act (CWA) were met with skepticism at a House subcommittee hearing last week. Officials with EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers said the rule would not further restrict farmland use nor would it impact backyard swimming pools or roadside or ag ditches. Pointed questions by lawmakers indicated they were not convinced.

Lawmakers also expressed concern that WOTUS represents a major power grab by the federal government. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said, “It’s the responsibility of Congress, not the administration, to define the scope of regulatory jurisdiction under the CWA.”

Another critique was the lack of input from states. Rep. Don Young (R-Ala.) challenged Bob Perciasepe, EPA’s deputy administrator, to name “just one state” that supported the rule and questioned if any states were consulted. Perciasepe said the agency did consult states but was unable to say which ones. He also said EPA treats states as co-regulators, not as regular stakeholders.

Perspective: The administration clearly has a lot of work to do before finalizing its rule, with the biggest issue being a high level of distrust.



Follow Pro Farmer Editorial Director Chip Flory on Twitter: @ChipFlory

To see more of what Pro Farmer has to offer, be sure to visit

Rough Farm Program Signup Schedule

May 30, 2014

Pro Farmer Extra

- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter -

May 29, 2014

Farm Program Signup "Schedule"

USDA has awarded $3 million to the University of Illinois, the University of Missouri (FAPRI) and Texas A&M University to help build online farm bill discussion tools. Another $3 million will be going to state cooperative extension services at land grant universities.

While some think USDA is dragging its feet on farm bill implementation of programs like Supplemental Coverage Option, which they contend may push farmers to the Ag Risk Coverage (ARC) program, it is not going to be a quick process.

Key for USDA: Making decisions that will hold up to legal and other scrutiny.

Key for Farmers: Education.

Unlike the 2008 Farm Bill and the ACRE program, there will be tools broadly available to farmers this time.

Here is - as best as we can tell - a rough schedule of important farm bill signup "timeframes."

  • Mid-Summer 2014: Producers will receive letters notifying them of current acreage bases and program yields, as well as 2009 through 2012 certified planting history.
  • Late-Summer 2014: MPP, ARC and PLC online tools become available. MPP enrollment for 2014 and 2015 begins. MPP owners have an opportunity to update yields and reallocate bases for ARC/PLC purposes.
  • Fall 2014: NAP buy-up online tools become available. NAP buy-up signup starts.
  • Winter 2014: ARC/PLC one-time selection begins.
  • Early 2015: ARC/PLC signup for 2014 and 2015 begins.


MPP: Margin Protection Program (dairy)
ARC: Ag Risk Coverage
PLC: Price Loss Coverage
NAP: Noninsured crop disaster Assistance Program

USDA says, "In late 2014, producers have to make their one-time election between PLC and ARC. Early 2015 is when the annual enrollment for the program -- PLC or ARC, based on their election -- begins for 2014 and 2015 crop years." No specific enrollment ending date or timeframe has been given.

Follow Pro Farmer Editorial Director Chip Flory on Twitter: @ChipFlory

To see more of what Pro Farmer has to offer, be sure to visit

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