Farmers Push Back Against Proposed EPA Water Rule

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Different agriculture organizations came together to take a stand Tuesday against the EPA's proposed new water ruling, which could make farmers lose control of their land.

The EPA has proposed a "Waters of the U.S." rule, which seeks to bring areas where water flows or pools during or after rainfall, under the federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction, even if these areas aren't wet most of the time. This means farmers would be subject to the act's programs, regulations and permitting requirements, which farmers say is going too far.

"I want farmers and ranchers to understand and people well beyond the farm and ranch to to understand that this is a very very serious issue about the federal government taking over control of the land," said Steve Nelson, the President of Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation.

So agriculture organizations including the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Nebraska Poultry Industries, Nebraska Soybean Association and the Nebraska State Diary Association came together to create the Common Sense Nebraska coalition in an effort to push back. Farmers say the proposal of this water rule would make their jobs nearly impossible to do.

"I mean it could be complete devastation to any farmer or cattle producer throughout the state," said Travis Rainforth, a farmer who let the coalition hold a press event on his land.

"Flexibility would be lost. That would be...maybe the word that would come to mind first, flexibility and how it would make us now less flexible to react with Mother Nature and in agriculture, you are dependent on Mother Nature and the weather," said Barbara Cooksley, a fourth-generation rancher.

The coalition says based on past experience, pushing back is their only option.

"The only way we've really managed to stop those things is by pushing back and pushing back harder. So if I can help be part of the push back then I'm happy to help," said Rainforth.

The farmers say they want other people to read up on the new proposed ruling, talk to farmers, and then hopefully get behind them on this new initiative.