Washington, D.C., September 10, 2014 – The Forest Service’s latest attempt to take water rights from farmers and ranchers violates fundamental constitutional protections, the Colorado Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation said today. The proposed Forest Service Groundwater Directive, they said, would circumvent state water rights and give the agency unprecedented control over water use in the West.

Colorado Farm Bureau President Don Shawcroft told the House Committee on Agriculture that the new directive would empower the Forest Service to take part ownership of private citizens’ water rights as a regular part of rights renewal process. Such seizures are unnecessary because western states have developed systems to fairly appropriate their often scarce water resources through statute and years of well-established case law, Shawcroft said.

Farm Bureau urged Congress to stop the directive. “Water is the lifeblood for all farm and ranch operations,” Shawcroft said. “We are outraged that the federal government continues to grossly and willfully ignore the established system of water rights.”