Tuesday, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association past president Steve Foglesong testified before the House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry at their hearing titled, “Waters of the U.S. Rulemaking and its Impact on Rural America.” Foglesong, from Astoria, Illinois, raises and feeds cattle and hogs in addition to growing corn, soybeans and hay on his Black Gold Ranch and Feedlot. Foglesong testified to the subcommittee on behalf of animal agriculture, urging Congress to act in order to prevent the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing their “waters of the U.S.” rule.
“Let’s be clear - everyone wants clean water,” said Foglesong. “Farmers and ranchers rely on clean water to be successful in business. But, expanding the federal regulatory reach of the EPA and Army Corp does not equal clean water. After reading the proposed rule, I can say that only one thing is clear, the proposed rule and its definitions are ambiguous.”
The proposed rule by the EPA and Army Corps would expand the definition of “waters” giving federal control over land features if a U.S. regulator could subjectively distinguish a bed, bank, and ordinary high water mark.
“We are currently feeding cattle and hogs, and I also graze cattle on my land,” said Foglesong. “I have seasonal streams running through my pastures and fields, as well as many ponds, lakes, and ditches. It appears to me that many of these features could now become federal waters under this proposed rule. If they are ‘waters of the U.S.,’ I will need a 404 or 402 permit to conduct everyday ranching activities near those areas.”
Foglesong also addressed concerns, not only from the agriculture standpoint, but also as a family-owned business; specifically that the agencies did not reach out to small businesses to determine the economic impact this rule would have under the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The proposed rule was drafted without outreach to the agriculture or small business communities.
“There was zero outreach to us in the agriculture community before the rule was proposed,” said Foglesong. “And despite what the EPA and Army Corps are saying, they did not have a meaningful dialogue with the small business community as a whole. We want to continue to do our part for the environment, but this ambiguous and expansive proposed rule does not help us achieve that.”
NCBA and others in animal agriculture are calling on the EPA and the Army Corps to withdraw the “waters of the U.S.” proposed rule and then engage in a serious and meaningful dialogue with the agricultural and business communities to find the necessary solution that will provide the clarity and certainty we require.
Source: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association