Water Rule

September 18, 2014

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

The ag industry has been hammering Congress to stop EPA’s new Waters of the United States rule, and last week, the House voted to block EPA’s rush to extend their jurisdiction.

EPA wants to take control of farm and ranch streams, wet lands, ditches, ponds. We won’t be able to tile a wet spot, or straighten a ditch or do anything without getting a government permit. The money and time to do routine improvements is a serious concern in farm country.

Now, since the House has passed legislation to pull back the EPA overreach, you might think that – we’ve stopped them. Well, think again. There aren’t enough votes in the Democratic-led Senate to pass the bill in the Senate. After the November election, that could change, but for now the House legislation is only a statement. Besides, President Obama has threatened to veto the House bill should it ever get to his desk anyway.

EPA has tried to convince ag groups that “nothing will change.” They just want to define their role to resolve the “grey areas.” At this point, there is no trust between farm & ranch and the EPA. Agriculture worries that they will be required to get approval for the application of fertilizer or pesticides. The American Farm Bureau says the new rule would give EPA “new oversight authority over millions of miles of streams. Virtually all farmers will be impacted.”

In the House, 35 Democrats and 227 Republicans voted for the bill. Collin Peterson, lead Democrat on the House Ag Committee, said, “This legislation is necessary because the EPA does not seem to understand the real world effects these regulations will have on farmers.”

This battle is not over.

O.K. – let’s turn the page because there are other very important challenges that need to be addressed.

We have country of origin labeling, the Renewable Fuel Standard, immigration reform, trade agreements with Europe and the Pacific, and on and on.

Back to reality and look at the schedule. Congress doesn’t have any time or interest in making the hard choices now. With the mid-term election in November, they will hit the campaign trail in October. All they will get done now is to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government open after October 1.

No more government shutdowns.

That’s it for this week. Until next week, I am John Block in Washington, D.C.