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Kevin Paap

Minnesota Farm Bureau applauds WOTUS repeal

Kevin Paap is pleased by repeal of the controversial Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, rule. Now he and his organization are hoping that the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA, the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, will be approved quickly by the U.S. Congress.

"Approval of the USMCA is very important," said Paap, president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau and a fourth-generation family farmer in Blue Earth County near Garden City, Minn.

He and other members of his group recently traveled to Washington, D.C., where they met with a number of elected officials and others with ties to U.S. agriculture.

Both Mexico and Canada are major trading partners for the United States, with ag products high on the list of goods bought and sold among the three countries. Though negotiators have agreed on the new USMCA, it still must be approved by the U.S. Congress.

"With so much uncertainty in U.S. agriculture, we need the USMCA," Paap told Agweek.

The Trump administration's decision to scrap WOTUS is both a relief and a victory for U.S. ag, Paap said.

WOTUS would have increased federal regulations on any waterways or wetlands under the federal Clean Water Act. WOTUS, first proposed in 2015, was extremely unpopular with mainstream agriculturalists, especially ones in the Upper Midwest where the new rule apparently would have affected the region's many potholes.

Repeal of WOTUS also drew praise from Jeff Mertz, president of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association.

"WOTUS has had a negative impact on North Dakota agriculture, particularly in the prairie pothole region. It would have hindered farmers' abilities to make land improvements with water management tools so we're glad to see it will be repealed," Mertz said in a written statement.

Though repeal of WOTUS was good news, the effort for what his organization called "practical water management regulations" is ongoing, according to the written statement.

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