(Posted Mon. Nov 3rd, 2014)
NCGA president Chip Bowling hosted nearly a dozen Environmental Protection Agency staffers including several senior officials from the Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds for a tour and informative session Friday at his farm in southern Maryland.
The visit was part of a series of meetings between NCGA and the EPA connected to the proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. Bowling was joined by NCGA CEO Chris Novak and Vice President of Public Policy Jon Doggett.
“We wanted to give them a view of what actually happens on the farm,” said Bowling. “Our members have a lot of uncertainty and concerns with the proposed rules. We are working with the EPA to ensure that the final proposal provides clarity and addresses those concerns.”
During the tour, EPA staff were shown areas that could be regulated under the proposal as currently written, including drainage ditches, grass waters that are dry most of the year, and low spots on fields where water pools after rain events.
Bowling said it is important to work with the EPA and give farmers a voice during the rule-making process.
“We want to have a seat at the table when these rules are being developed,” said Bowling.
EPA officials described the tour and ensuing conversation as educational and productive.
“I know they learned something, as did we,” said Bowling. Bowling also used the opportunity to highlight advances in farming operations over the past three decades, and what that has meant for conservation and environmental impact. “Ninety-nine percent of my farm friends do what I do,” said Bowling. “We have no problems with erosion, nutrient loss or ditch damage. We’ve become more efficient and are doing more with less.”
EPA is accepting comments on the proposed rule through Friday, November 14. More than 200,000 comments have been submitted to date. NCGA urges farmers to make their voices heard, and join us in calling on the EPA to fix the rule. They can do so by visiting www.ncga.com and clicking the link under “Take Action.”