June 11, 2021
Weekly Column

On Monday, I sat down with the South Dakota Corn & South Dakota Soybean Associations in Valley Springs. For over an hour, I heard directly from producers on concerns they have, the challenges of the last four years, as well as the emerging opportunities. From workforce to trade to farm programs, there was a common goal amongst both groups: greater predictability. 

Every two to four years, power can shift in Washington – that constant changing of the guard can cause problems for these producers. Farm programs and regulations change, and often, those changes aren’t for the better. 

This week the Biden Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency announced they will be revisiting the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule dictating which bodies of water are subject to EPA regulation. For those unfamiliar, the Obama-era WOTUS rule granted the federal government regulatory control over any “body” of water on private land. Basically, if there’s a dry ditch, ephemeral stream or certain converted farmland, the federal government would have the power to regulate your property.

This rule was confusing and poorly written – it created a lot of uncertainty in farm country. I was proud to work with the Trump Administration to get the WOTUS rule repealed and replaced with a more practical approach. Farmers and ranchers should not need a team of engineers, lawyers, and consultants each time they want to manage their property. We need to protect our waters and be good stewards of our land but regulating ditches and puddles didn’t meet that goal. 

Under President Trump, the EPA replaced WOTUS with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule – this policy protected our larger navigable waters from pollution rather than placed unnecessary burdens on farmers potholes. 

If you’ve spent much time with farmers and ranchers, you’ll know they care about preserving our waters and lands more than most – they are diligent stewards of the land. Why the Biden Administration is set on taking every page from Obama’s playbook despite knowing the WOTUS rule was a giant flop is a mystery to me. 

It’s possible t
o be environmentally conscious without harming producers – I hope the Biden Administration remembers that as they explore this out of touch WOTUS rule.