Last week, Steve Foglesong, former president of National Cattlemen's Beef Association, appeared before the House Committee on Agriculture to explain how the proposed Waters of the United States rule, will impact famers and ranchers.
"I am extremely concerned about the devastating impact this proposed rule could have on me and other ranchers and farmers," Foglesong said. "As a livestock producer, I can tell you that after reading the proposed rule it has the potential to impact every aspect of my operation and others like it by regulating potentially every tributary, stream, pond, and dry streambed on my land."
According the Environmental Protection agency, the proposed rule is designed to explain and clarify the Clean Water Act. The EPA, along with the Army Corps Of Engineers began researching, brainstorming and drafting new rule in 2010. Both agencies had hoped the new rules would make reinforcing the Clean Water Act possible. Ranchers and farmers however, don't believe the rule is an improvement.
"This rule doesn't provide clarity, it just adds to the confusion," he said. "This ambiguity over key definitions will result in massive interpretation by bureaucrats across the country and it'll place all landowners in a position of uncertainty and inequity."
Although the EPA and the Army Corps said they consulted farmers, ranchers and small business owners when drafting the rule, most disagree.
"There was zero outreach to us in the agriculture community before the rule was proposed," said Foglesong. "And despite what the EPA and Army Corps are saying, they did not have a meaningful dialogue with the small business community as a whole."
While animal agriculture and property owners nationwide do not support the proposed rule, they are not opposed to clarifying the Clean Water Act.
"There's no argument, clean water must be protected but this rule will only provide chaos," he said. "Farmers, ranchers, small business owners, we're all ready for a chat, but you really need to listen to what we have to say."