By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Communication and Organization Director: Well, you certainly can guess that farm and ranch country is cheering President Donald J. Trump and newly-appointed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for today’s action to reverse the Environmental Protection Agency’s previous effort to overregulate our waterways.

For a little background, President Trump today signed an executive order aimed at rolling back one of former President Barack Obama’s major environmental regulations, a clean water rule known as Waters of the United States (WOTUS).

It's a bright day in farm and ranch country with today's action by the President regarding WOTUS. (Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Dinsmore, Yuma farmer and active Farm Bureau Member)

Said the President after signing the executive order, “The EPA’s so-called “Waters of the United States” rule is one of the worst examples of federal regulation, and it has truly run amok, and is one of the rules most strongly opposed by farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers all across our land. It's prohibiting them from being allowed to do what they're supposed to be doing. The Clean Water Act says that the EPA can regulate “navigable waters” -- meaning waters that truly affect interstate commerce. But a few years ago, the EPA decided that “navigable waters” can mean nearly every puddle or every ditch on a farmer's land, or anyplace else that they decide -- right? It was a massive power grab. The EPA’s regulators were putting people out of jobs by the hundreds of thousands, and regulations and permits started treating our wonderful small farmers and small businesses as if they were a major industrial polluter. They treated them horribly.”

Previously, the overreach of the EPA through WOTUS was so egregious that American Farm Bureau launched a campaign known as #DitchTheRule that actually garnered national attention. For farmers and ranchers all over the country, today marks a moment of celebration for all the tough lobbying efforts to protect their land, agriculture and a way of life.

What Our Farmers and Ranchers Said

  • “President Trump’s executive order to ditch the Waters of the U.S. rule is a welcome relief to farmers and ranchers across the country today,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “The flawed WOTUS rule has proven to be nothing more than a federal land grab, aimed at telling farmers and ranchers how to run their businesses. The Environmental Protection Agency failed to listen to farmers’ and ranchers’ concerns when drafting the rule and instead created widespread confusion for agriculture. Under the rule, the smallest pond or ditch could be declared a federal waterway.

“Farmers and ranchers have been calling for a common-sense approach to regulatory reform, and today the Trump administration responded to that call. EPA has too long been characterized by regulatory overreach that disregards the positive conservation efforts of farmers and threatens their very way of life. Today’s action is as much a beginning as an end, and there is much work to do to ensure that any revised rule is transparent and fair for America’s farmers and ranchers.”

  • “This is great news from the White House,” said Arizona Farm Bureau President Kevin Rogers, currently in Washington D.C. for Farm Bureau business. “Arizona farmers and ranchers are relieved that random rain water is now not a water of the U.S. and the EPA must stand down. I thank the President for following through with his pledge to reduce government regulations.”
  • Arizona Farm Bureau’s First Vice President Stefanie Smallhouse added pausing long enough from working with other leaders on trying to reform the Endangered Species Act during a trip to Denver, “The President rescinding the WOTUS rule is not about an attack on water quality as some radicals will say, but about the recognition that this rule was an egregious act of power abuse of the federal government. This is a win for the ‘little guy’ in the classic bully scenario. This will allow for local and state governments as well as industry, to start again with a voice of reason and practicality. This was not permitted before.”
  • And, Arizona Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher Chair Cassie Lyman posted this on Facebook: “Trump just signed an executive order repealing #WOTUS(Waters of the U.S) EPA ruling. Eliminated over burdensome, unnecessary regulation that would affect all of us not just Farmers and Ranchers! A win for agriculture and a win for our food supply!”

Now let’s hope our president gets this trade thing right. American agriculture depends on global trade and the agriculture that moves around in Arizona and to other parts of the world is no exception.

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