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Ag groups applaud WOTUS rollback

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Tuesday began the process to undo the Waters of the United States rule, and agriculture groups were quick to applaud the move.

“President Trump’s executive order to ditch the Waters of the U.S. rule is a welcome relief to farmers and ranchers across the country today,” American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall said.

WOTUS, which was finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2015 to clarify which bodies of water are covered by the Clean Water Act, has been a concern for agriculture since its passage because it broadened what bodies of water fell under EPA jurisdiction. Producer groups argued that agriculture largely was left out of the conversation in the crafting of WOTUS.

Duvall said the rule produced “widespread confusion for agriculture.”

“Under the rule, the smallest pond or ditch could be declared a federal waterway,” he said. “Farmers and ranchers have been calling for a common-sense approach to regulatory reform, and today the Trump administration responded to that call.”

“America’s pork producers are very pleased that the president ordered EPA and the Corps of Engineers to repeal or rewrite this ill-conceived, overbroad regulation,” said Nation Pork Producers Council president John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. “The WOTUS rule was a dramatic government overreach and an unprecedented expansion of federal jurisdiction and control over private lands.

WOTUS was challenged in court by at least 30 states, environmental organizations and industry groups. A federal appeals court in October 2015 issued a stay preventing the rule’s implementation nationwide.

“We fully support the repeal of the WOTUS rule. Farmers and ranchers care deeply about clean water, but this rule had significant flaws. It was arbitrarily written, legally indefensible and extremely difficult to implement,” said National Corn Growers Association president Wesley Spurlock.

Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said the rule “should be taken out behind the barn and put out of its misery.”

“This extremely flawed rule would force ranchers and feedlot operators to get permits or risk excessive federal penalties despite being miles away from any navigable water,” he said. “It would be one of the largest federal land grabs and private-property infringements in American history.”

"The Trump Administration's move to reconsider the EPA's WOTUS rule marks a victory for ranchers and landowners who were left with the uncertainty of a misguided regulatory scheme that expanded the agency's jurisdiction far beyond the original intent of Congress under the Clean Water Act, said North Dakota Stockmen's Association president Warren Zenker.


Both of North Dakota’s senators cheered the move.

“The Obama Administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule was a regulatory overreach that would have placed unnecessary burdens on farmers, ranchers and other small businesses in North Dakota and across the nation,” said Sen. John Hoeven. “The president’s executive order starts the removal of the Obama rule and ensures that we support economic growth, provide regulatory certainty and respect states’ rights.”

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp was invited to attend the signing of the executive order on Tuesday because of her attempts through legislation to do away with WOTUS.

“After working with North Dakota farmers and ranchers for years to stop this unworkable EPA rule, the president’s action today shows our concerns have been heard loud and clear,” Heitkamp said. “Water is everywhere in North Dakota, from Prairie Potholes to the Missouri River. That’s why this unworkable federal rule — which creates uncertainty about the waters EPA can regulate — would hit our family farmers and rural communities so hard.”