Expansion of Jurisdiction Would Hit Farmers Hard

Farmers need to get educated on this issue and come to grips with how this could impact the landscape.

Published on: Apr 26, 2011

Farm Bureau Regulatory Specialist Don Parrish says the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory guidance that is at the White House for review would not just expand EPA jurisdiction to all U.S. waters, but allow it to vastly boost an impending pesticide permit requirement

"If this guidance document, as the [Army] Corps [of Engineers] and EPA says it does in this lead document, expands jurisdiction all of the sudden it is going to be virtually impossible to avoid an erosion feature," Parrish said. "It is going to be impossible for them to avoid every ditch, and impossible for them to avoid every isolated puddle on their farm. If that is the case then it broadens the number of pesticides that will need to have permits."
   
Parrish says EPA and the Army Corps are involved in a sham process to expand jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, power they couldn't get from Congress two years ago.

"We think that the bipartisan support is extremely strong, especially in the House, because we had both the chairmen and ranking members of both the House Agriculture Committee and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee," Parrish said. "Both speak to this issue and both signed on to this letter."

Parrish is referring to a letter to the EPA and the Corps recently signed by 170 members of both parties arguing that the agencies can't change the scope and meaning of the law without a new law or regulations.

But Parrish says EPA makes no bones about its intent. It wants expanded authority and won't take no for an answer.

"They want to expand jurisdiction into features that most people do not and will not support as being designated waters of the U.S.," Parrish said. "We're not fighting about rivers and streams and creeks, things that have water in them. We're fighting about things that only have water in them during rainfall events."

Parrish says farmers need to get educated on this issue and come to grips with how this could impact the landscape that they farm. He adds the Senate needs to fix the problem, as the House has voted to do, by reversing court-ordered permits for pesticide spraying in or near water.