By Cyndie Shearing, American Farm Bureau Federation
“Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights” has long been attributed to Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and our nation’s third president. When he wrote those words in 1789, Jefferson could not have imagined how true they would ring more than 200 years later, when the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed an overreaching “waters of the U.S.” rule in 2015 that was more about controlling land than protecting water.
Fortunately, at the end of 2018, after years of litigation and controversy, the agencies proposed a new rule that provides farmers and ranchers with Clean Water and Clear Rules. Now EPA and the Corps want to hear directly from members of the public – including farmers, ranchers, landowners and others who may be subject to regulation – to make sure the new Clean Water Rule provides clear and easily understood guidelines. But with the comment period on the proposed new rule closing on April 15, there’s no time to lose. To have a voice in this process, it’s important to submit your comments online now at www.fb.org/cleanwater.
EPA’s administrator has stated he wants the new Clean Water Rule to work for agriculture and all of America. Below are some key reasons to be optimistic about it:
- The proposed new rule provides clarity, regulatory certainty and protects water resources, while respecting the federal-state balance that Congress struck in the Clean Water Act. It alleviates unpredictable and inconsistent case-by-case determinations of which waters fall under the agencies’ jurisdiction. It also brings an end to the decades-long trend of persistent federal government overreach that cannot be reconciled with either congressional intent or judicial precedent.
- This proposed new “waters of the U.S.” definition is grounded in the Clean Water Act. It’s also consistent with Supreme Court precedent. And it helps correct past agency practice, guidance and interpretations that improperly expanded the scope of federal authority under the CWA.
- The proposed rule eliminates much of the uncertainty, ambiguity and inconsistency that characterized previous definitions related to the scope of EPA and the Corps’ jurisdiction. The proposal also appropriately places the burden on the government, not landowners, to show jurisdiction in cases where historic evidence is needed.
- The proposal appropriately defines tributaries to include only those streams that contribute perennial or intermittent (as opposed to occasional or ephemeral) flows to a traditional navigable water. The focus on the well-understood concepts of ephemeral, intermittent and perennial flow allows landowners and regulators to more readily identify tributaries subject to CWA jurisdiction.
- Under the proposed rule, wetlands adjacent to other jurisdictional waters (traditional navigable waters, tributaries, ditches, lakes, ponds and impoundments) would fall under EPA jurisdiction. With this “adjacent wetlands” definition in place, agencies asserting jurisdiction over isolated, intrastate, non-navigable waters is no longer a possibility.
- The proposal reaffirms the “prior converted cropland” exclusion, which grandfathered in many acres of cropland and exempted them from federal jurisdiction.
Farmers and ranchers want Clean Water and Clear Rules. Don’t miss this chance to let your voice be heard. Submit your comments online today at www.fb.org/cleanwater.
Cyndie Shearing is director of internal communications at the American Farm Bureau Federation.
LINCOLN, NEB., March 15, 2019 – The Nebraska Farm Bureau has launched relief efforts to aid Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and rural communities suffering from the natural disasters that have impacted the state. The relief efforts include the establishment of a disaster relief fund and launch of an online agriculture disaster exchange portal to connect those in need with those who can help. (more…)
When you think about agriculture, food is the first thing that comes to mind for most people. Food is definitely important for life, however, farmers and ranchers provide for much more than food alone. Plant and animal biotechnology have resulted in new antibodies for immunizations. Agriculture has also contributed to research that has helped develop surgical techniques and pharmaceuticals that help save lives.
And that is just the beginning of how agriculture is food for life. Agriculture protects and provides for open spaces, clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat and local economies.
Agriculture: Food for Life and working to Keep Wyoming Strong! Farmers and ranchers are truly stewards of the planet. In agriculture, we have the grand responsibility of not only making it work while we are here on earth, but making it work for future generations. To be a good steward means to implement the kind of management that works. Making careful and responsible choices for the land that we have been entrusted to care for is important and necessary.
Looking at the number of years a particular business has been operating can be a good indicator of success. Hundreds of Wyoming farms/ranches have celebrated their centennial anniversaries; meaning their farm or ranch has been in the same family for multiple generations. Now, that is representation of good stewardship.
The land and its resources must be managed well in order to continue to thrive. Using advances in technology as well as knowledge of the land, farmers and ranchers are doing more with less. They also feed their families the same food they grow and raise.
Farmers and ranchers play a large role as stewards of the land. They do this in many ways including: caring for the land by practicing best management practices, providing wildlife habitat, open spaces and fresh air. I challenge you to see for yourself. Ask a farmer or rancher in your community to tell you the true story about how they are stewards of the land all while providing food for life.
While you are enjoying your favorite food remember to “Celebrate Agriculture,” and its people who care for the animals and the land seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.
The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation invites all Wyomingites to “Celebrate Agriculture” and learn more about its role in your daily lives and recognize the issues impacting agriculture. We proudly celebrate Wyoming agriculture and its people every day of the year and specifically on Wyoming Agriculture Day, March 14, 2019. Visit us at www.wyfb.org.
In a room full of Wyoming farmers and ranchers, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed his first proclamation as Governor designating the week of March 4th as “Wyoming Agricultural Literacy Week.”
“I can’t be more proud than to have Farm Bureau here,” Governor Gordon stated as he took pen to paper declaring the importance of agriculture literacy and Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation’s “Ag Books for Kids” program.
“Ag is important to Wyoming,” Governor Gordon stated. “There is a work ethic on the farm and ranch that is second to none.”
The American Farm Bureau Federation today released its top public policy goals for the year. The AFBF board approved its 2019 Strategic Action Plan following delegate action during the organization’s 100th annual convention in New Orleans.
AFBF will use the goals as a guide for strategic planning and grassroots activity throughout 2019. The five top issues are:
- 116th Congress: Build relationships to educate and work with members of Congress, with support from Farm Bureau’s grassroots leaders and lobbying programs, to promote policies that benefit farmers, ranchers and rural communities.
- Agricultural Labor: Enact legislation that helps farmers and ranchers meet their labor needs.
- Infrastructure: Work for greater investment in rural and agricultural infrastructure, including broadband internet access; rural roads and bridges; inland waterway locks and dams; sea ports; and agricultural research.
- Regulatory Reform: Work for reform of the rulemaking process to ensure that federal rules are supported by science and created in a transparent manner, while identifying specific regulations and regulatory opportunities that improve the ability of farmers and ranchers to remain productive and competitive.
- Trade: Defend and expand trade opportunities for U.S. agriculture.
The AFBF board also approved a set of “watch-list” issues at the New Orleans meeting. AFBF will monitor these issues as part of its ongoing strategic planning process. These include:
- Animal Agriculture: Increase efforts to defend animal agriculture production and promote meat consumption, as well as work for policies to enhance animal ag producers’ productivity and profitability, such as transportation issues unique to livestock and poultry production, aquaculture and apiculture.
- Energy: Ensure policy that enhances the availability and affordability of energy for farmers and ranchers and encourages the growth of renewable energy production. Monitor climate legislation to ensure it does not unduly burden or restrict agriculture.
- Farm Policy: Monitor implementation of the 2018 farm bill to ensure farmers’ and ranchers’ needs are met.
- Labeling: Monitor rules and practices dealing with labeling of food and agricultural products, including milk and milk substitutes, cell-based food and food containing ingredients that are products of biotechnology.
- Mental Health: Promote resources for farmers and their families who are struggling with substance addiction, depression and other mental health challenges.
- Taxes: Continue working to eliminate the estate tax, promote other tax policies that benefit farmers and ranchers, and preserve the Unrelated Business Income Tax exemption that allows Farm Bureau to be a voice for farmers and ranchers.
The priorities and watch-list issues are only some of the topics the organization will address in 2019. AFBF continues to identify opportunities to take action consistent with the policies set forth by the organization’s farmer and rancher delegates from across the country.
(Washington, D.C., January 16, 2019) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that many Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices will reopen temporarily in the coming days to perform certain limited services for farmers and ranchers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recalled about 2,500 FSA employees to open offices on Thursday, January 17 and Friday, January 18, in addition to Tuesday, January 22, during normal business hours. The offices will be closed for the federal Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday, January 21. (more…)
In front of a celebratory gathering of approximately 7,000 farmers and ranchers from across the nation, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall opened AFBF’s 100th Annual Convention by outlining a few of the organization’s many historic accomplishments – from leading the way on the nation’s first farm bill in the 1930s to helping develop the Food for Peace Program in the 1950s. As AFBF heads toward a new century of service to America’s farm and ranch families, Duvall said the organization will continue to be guided by the honorable principle that “farmers want to feed people.” (more…)
Legislative and agriculture issues will be presented at the 2019 Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Legislative Meeting. The meeting will be Jan. 30-31 at the Little America Hotel in Cheyenne. (more…)
Denver, CO. – December 21, 2018 – Mountain States Legal Foundation filed an appeal Thursday, urging the Ninth Circuit to overrule the District Court in Montana and to return management of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear to state and local wildlife management authorities. (more…)
By Robert Giblin
Christmas and other December holidays have changed a lot over the years, but even amidst wide-scale, rapid transformation, many holiday season traditions and ideals that have been influenced by farm communities and rural America still endure. Rural America continues to symbolize the American ideal of what the Christmas and holiday seasons are all about, as it has since the early days of our country. (more…)