FIGHTINg THE BAD, CELEBRATING THE GOOD
(From the June / July 2015 issue of the Georgia Farm Bureau News)
Farmers got disappointing news out of Washington on May 27 when the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers indicated they plan to implement the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule that Farm Bureau has been fighting the past year. Your GFB legislative staff and American Farm Bureau’s staff have been analyzing the early version of the final rule the agencies released, and it doesn’t look good.
Early analysis shows the final rule is even broader than the proposed rule. This is the agencies’ attempt to regulate all water under the Clean Water Act. The agencies rejected requests from Farm Bureau and landowners who submitted comments asking the agencies to exclude “water” features that only carry water when it rains and to require more than just the presence of the highly subjective bed, bank and ordinary high water mark to define a tributary subject to regulation. Instead, the final rule broadens the definition and makes so-called tributaries even more difficult for landowners to identify.
You can read more about Farm Bureau’s analysis of the rule on page 5. Farm Bureau isn’t accepting the agencies’ implementation of their final rule as the end of this fight. We’re still working with members of Congress to pass legislation that would require the EPA to go back to the drawing board and consult properly with landowners and other stakeholders whom the rule will affect. We want the EPA to give our concerns serious consideration and not just lip service.
If we fail to succeed with a legislative option, then we’ll pursue blocking implementation of WOTUS, or the Clean Water Rule as EPA is now calling it in an attempt to win public favor, by focusing on the inter-agency review process of the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Defense, Energy & Small Business Administration. If this fails, then Farm Bureau will pursue a litigation strategy focused on showing WOTUS exceeds Congress’ origi-nal intent under the Clean Water Act.
EPA is saying that their new rule doesn’t change the exemptions agriculture has in the Clean Water Act, but, by broad-ening the definition of waters of the U.S. under their “Clean Water Rule,” the rule basically makes all land subject to the rule and would make field work like putting out fertilizer or applying herbicides and insecticides an illegal activity unless the farmer gets a permit.
As farmers, this will hinder our ability to raise food for America and jeopardizes the future of agriculture. Rest assured, Farm Bureau isn’t rolling over on this issue. Farmers have too much at stake. I’m sure we’ll be calling on you, our members to send more comments to EPA and contact your legislators, so please be prepared to do so.
To stay up-to-date on this issue, make sure you’re signed up to receive legislative updates via email through GFB’s Voter-Voice and our weekly GFB News Alert. You may signup for VoterVoice at www.gfb.org/legislative/action.html and for the GFB News Alert at tinyurl.com/GFBNewsAlertsignup.
The young people we have coming behind us who want to farm and work in agribusiness are the reason we can’t give up the fight on this WOTUS issue. I had the chance to visit with the 2015-2016 Georgia FFA officers on June 8 and, as always, was impressed by their enthusiasm to learn more about our organization and their appreciation of what farmers do.
I’m looking forward to spending time with GFB’s Young Farmers during their annual conference on Jekyll Island July 15-18. We’re changing things up a little this year with the conference in that we’re going to go ahead and select the winners of the YF Discussion Meet, the YF Achievement Contest and Excellence in Agriculture Contest. The primary reason for doing this is so the state winners have more time to prepare for the AFBF competition.
We’re in the process of selecting the three YF Achievement finalists, and you’ll get to meet them in the next Issue of the News. We’ll also provide complete coverage of the other contests and the conference.
If you’ve never attended the annual Sunbelt Expo Field Day, it’s coming up on July 9, and I encourage you to go. It’s a great opportunity to hear about new seed varieties and crop protection products the top ag companies are offering. A free biscuit breakfast will be served starting at 7:15 a.m. with shuttles heading to the fields at 8 a.m. Tours will end at noon with a barbecue lunch followed by a crop dusting demonstration.
The school year has come to an end and graduations are behind us. I know how proud and excited you are of your children who have completed their studies and are heading out into the world to make their mark. Bonnie and I are celebrating our last child’s graduation. Zeb has finished veterinary school at UGA and is now working for Dogwood Genetics working on large animals.
He is a graduate of the first class to finish the Food Animal Veterinary Incentive Program (FAVIP). This is a program Farm Bureau supports to increase the number of large animal veterinarians in underserved areas of our state. This program encourages young vet students to focus on large animals in their studies. For more information you can visit online at tinyurl.com/FAVIP.
Life on the farm is becoming more difficult by the day. Over burdensome government regulations, unfair trade practices, commodity prices, well, the list just seems to get longer. But we must keep up the good fight.
Our children desire the same opportunity to farm as their forefathers. The challenges I just mentioned sometimes seem too numerous to overcome but as always we can turn to the Bible for encouragement.
As Moses stood on the banks of the Red Sea and looked back and saw his enemies coming by the hundreds he was still not afraid. He trusted in the Lord to see him through.
The Bible tells us in Deuteronomy 20:1NKJV: “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God is with you.”
We, the farmers, must trust the Lord to see us through and cultivate the wonderful exciting talents that God has instilled in our children. So let’s keep fighting the bad and praise God for the good and celebrate in his blessing.