Leadership representing the National Association of Conservation Districts and National Corn Growers last week met with representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to express concerns on regarding the proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule.
NACD leadership noted that the association's policy does not support any increase in jurisdiction proposed by a final rule. NACD requested that EPA take additional time in drafting the rule in order to incorporate more input from conservation districts and other local officials, and landowners and land-users at the local level.
NACD also asked that better definitions be used to achieve the outcome of clarity.
"Clarity on how the rule could impact landowners is extremely important," said NACD President-elect Lee McDaniel. "We are concerned that the rule's terms and definitions do not appropriately reflect the landowners' natural resource and operational diversity across the country, and could possibly have unintended consequences on districts' ability to effectively work with landowners to implement voluntary conservation efforts at the local level."
Additionally, NACD asked that EPA clearly articulate the expected outcome of the rule. EPA must keep in mind the implementation process throughout the writing of the rule, to ensure the rule—as drafted and implemented—will ultimately result in the expected and desired outcome, without impeding landowner involvement in locally-led natural resource conservation efforts that improve water quality, NACD said.
NCGA First Vice President Chip Bowling and Corn Board member Keith Alverson and other NCGA staff, also meeting with EPA officials last week, provided real-world examples on why NCGA members are concerned about the rule.
“During this meeting, we made some important points that brought the officials attention to how the rule does not serve their purpose of increasing clarity,” Bowling explained. “Farmers requested clarification because it was, and still is, necessary. We greatly hope that, through this process, we can come to a solution that reaches the original goal.”
Both Bowling and Alverson supplied photographs of their farms, in Newburg, Md., and Chester, S.D., respectively, to illustrate how the proposed rule could be applied in a variety of ways which would actually increase already existing confusion. Their examples showed how corn farmers may have difficulty complying despite their desire to do so.
NCGA also stressed how, if implemented as stated, this rule would create significant, detrimental impacts on farmers.
Both NCGA and NACD said formal comments on behalf of the respective groups would be filed. Public comment closes Oct. 20.