2014-04-30 13.39.00For Wednesday, April 30, 2014, the National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for all of Central Maryland through late tonight.

As you watch your run-off ditches surge into temporary streams, the Farm Bureau ask you to contemplate whether or not those ditches should be considered navigable waters, to be regulated by the federal government. According to the Farm Bureau, if EPA finalizes its new expansive Water Rule, virtually every area that gets wet or has flow during rainfall could be regulated.

On April 21, 2014, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers released their long-anticipated proposed rule to expand the Clean Water Act. The American Farm Bureau Federation analysis of the report concludes that the EPA and the Corps are now attempting to regulate virtually all water, which they note is something Congress has explicitly chosen not to allow and which two U.S. Supreme Court decisions have rejected.

AFBF notes that normal farming and conservation activities, such as fencing, brush management and pruning shrubs and trees, were exempted by Congress and have never required permits under the Clean Water Act. According to the AFBF analysis, EPA and the Corps would now require farmers and ranchers to meet otherwise voluntary Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) standards for these everyday normal farming activities and voluntary conservation practices, or else face Clean Water Act liability. By linking the normal farming exemptions to NRCS standards, the rule would make voluntary conservation standards subject to EPA enforcement.

“Enough is enough,” said Maryland Farm Bureau President Chuck Fry.  “Farmers must be able to conduct business without stopping to beg permission from the government at every turn.”

Click here to read more about the AFBF position.