The American Farm Bureau Federation fears that if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is allowed to extend its authority beyond the boundaries of the Clean Water Act in regard to the Chesapeake Bay, it will continue its march across the country.
Such a militaristic march will crush agriculture, AFBF says.
"Specifically, we believe that EPA moving forward in the manner they are violates the Clean Water Act," Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said on Sunday, opening day for the organization's 92nd Annual Meeting in Atlanta.
Therefore, Farm Bureau today is filing a lawsuit to halt EPA's plans for total maximum daily load regulations for those industrial and agricultural operations surrounding the Chesapeake Bay. The federal lawsuit will be filed in Pennsylvania.
"EPA likes to call the TMDL a 'pollution diet," but this diet threatens to starve agriculture out of the entire 64,000 square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed," Stallman said. "This new approach will not end with the bay," Stallman said. "EPA has already revealed its plan to take similar action in other watersheds across the nation, including the Mississippi River watershed."
The Chesapeake Bay lawsuit is but one front on which agriculture must fight regulation, Stallman said. He believes regulatory action will be the biggest challenge to U.S. agriculture in 2011. The lawsuit and Farm Bureau's participation in the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, a 23-member agriculture organization focused on consumer education, will be expensive. However, Stallman said, a battle on two fronts – regulation and consumer perception – is necessary for industry's survival.