The Cattle Industry Convention kicks off this week in New Orleans, and one major topic that will be discussed is the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), and 16 other farm and builders’ groups are not waiting around for the Supreme Court to clarify the definition of WOTUS, as they filed a lawsuit in federal court. NCBA notes the lawsuit, against the Environmental Protection Agency for its final WOTUS rule, is “an attack on farmers and ranchers” and says it, “lacks common sense.”
NCBA Chief Counsel Mary Thomas Hart says the EPA rule does exempt some farm features like drainage ditches, stock ponds, and prior-converted farmland, but not those like streams that only flow when it rains. But why a lawsuit now, when the Supreme Court may narrow the definition of WOTUS when it rules in Sackett vs. EPA in a few months?
Over 1,700 cattle producers last year sent messages to the EPA opposing the agency’s sweeping definition of WOTUS, but Hart claims EPA didn’t listen.
Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall issued a statement that the new WOTUS rule again gives the federal government “sweeping authority over private lands” and creates uncertainty for farmers “even if they’re miles from the nearest navigable water.”