American Farm Bureau Federation

The American Farm Bureau Federation is the unified national voice of agriculture, working through our grassroots organizations to enhance and strengthen the lives of rural Americans and to build strong, prosperous agricultural communities.


Ditch The Rule

The purpose of this initiative is to help you answer questions about the “waters of the U.S.” proposed rule and to provide resources to make it easier for the public to engage in the campaign to fight the rule as currently proposed.

It’s Time to Ditch The Rule

Puddles, ponds, ditches, ephemerals (land that looks like a small stream during heavy rain but isn’t wet most of the time) and isolated wetlands dot the nation’s farmland. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) on June 29 finalized a rule that expand its regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to these types of land features and waters, giving the agencies the power to dictate land-use decisions and farming practices in or near them. On August 28, the new rule became effective, making it more difficult to farm or change a farming operation to remain competitive and profitable.

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The EPA broke the law with its social media campaign promoting a controversial Obama administration water rule...

GAO: EPA Ditched the Law Through “Covert Propoganda”

From Politico:

A Government Accountability Office report released Monday afternoon found that the campaign promoting the Waters of the U.S. rule violated legal provisions barring federal agencies from engaging in congressional and grassroots lobbying.

Read more on Politico.

Read AFBF President Bob Stallman’s statement here.

GAO Finds EPA Violated Law on WOTUS

On Dec. 14, the GAO found that the Environmental Protection Agency broke the law with its social media and grassroots lobbying campaign advocating for its own Waters of the U.S. rule. It has become clear that the agency used illegal tactics to manufacture ill-informed support for the rule.

Congress must act immediately to prohibit implementation of this rule, which is the product of an unlawful and misguided process.

"The judges expressed deep concerns over the basic legality of this rule. We’re not in the least surprised."

Bob Stallman

“A federal court today ordered the EPA to stop enforcement nationwide of the Waters of the United States rule. The American Farm Bureau Federation is pleased the Sixth Circuit recognizes that this rule has serious flaws and cannot go forward until the courts have had an opportunity to understand its effect on farmers, ranchers and landowners of all kinds.

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Video Statement on the WOTUS Ruling

On Friday, October 9, a court of appeals siting in Cincinnati, OH issued a temporary “stay” of the WOTUS rule. EPA and the Corps cannot enforce the new rule until this same court rules otherwise, giving farmers and ranchers a temporary reprieve from the uncertainty and liability surrounding the new WOTUS rule.

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FACT OR FICTION: Shedding light on EPA’s “Facts” about the new “waters of the U.S.” rule

As soon as EPA finalized its new rule, its spin machine was in overdrive (again), this time labeling their bundle of fabrications: “The Clean Water Rule FACT CHECK.” We took the opportunity, again, to check their “facts” with a six-page legal analysis explaining how EPA again misleads the public over EPA’s expansion of jurisdiction over waters.

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Not What Congress Had in Mind

EPA’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act is expanded immensely under the final Waters of the U.S. Rule. Among the numerous questionable provisions, the rule would define “navigable waters” so as to regulate countless ephemeral drains, ditches and “wetlands” that only contain water when it rains. But whether they are wet or dry on any given day, farming, home building, business expansions, commercial development and countless other land uses in or near these land features will require a federal permit. Permits might take years, or might never be issued. The result amounts to nothing short of federal zoning authority.

This is not what Congress had in mind when it wrote the Clean Water Act.

Let’s Map EPA’s Overreach

In the final rule, EPA and the Corps can regulate almost all waters. AFBF has read the fine print of the final rule and mapped out (using the same type of map EPA will use) how many “waters” can be regulated by the federal government and our analysis is frightening! Very few “waters” found on the farm would be free from potential jurisdiction.

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Let’s read the fine print

Recently, the EPA’s acting assistant administrator for water questioned the validity of concerns raised by the American Farm Bureau Federation and others regarding the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule.

Let’s take a look at EPA’s comments together.

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Does EPA have the right to do what it is proposing?

EPA clearly thinks it does, but the Supreme Court has said in two separate decisions that there are limits to EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act. If the agency can regulate every water body from the largest to the smallest, and even those areas that aren’t wet most of the time, as it is proposing in this rule, then there are effectively no limits to the agency’s regulatory reach.

Tweet Your Voice

Let Congress, not federal agencies, make the laws. Say NO to the new EPA rule! #WOTUS #DitchTheRule

What is different under the final rule?

EPA claims in its promotional materials that it is not broadening coverage of the Clean Water Act. However, the details of the rule itself say otherwise.

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Tweet Your Voice

An unwelcome guest in your backyard – the EPA. Protect your land today! #DitchTheRule

I’ve heard that the rule would restore protections that existed before the Supreme Court rulings. Is that correct?

Advocates for the proposed rule claim that it would restore protections that existed before the Supreme Court’s decisions in 2001 and 2006; however, that is a gross misinterpretation. The court upheld the limits that already existed in the Clean Water Act. EPA might have behaved as if it had the authority to regulate every puddle and ditch in the country, but that doesn’t mean it was right.

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For me … the EPA and Corps Clean Water regulations could literally make farming a large portion of our land impossible.”

Katie Heger
How will those waters be protected if EPA doesn’t regulate them?

EPA’s implication that only the federal government is capable of protecting small bodies of water is not supported by science or facts, and EPA certainly has not provided any evidence to support that assertion.

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Stop EPA Overreach, Farm Bureau’s Stallman Tells Congress

“It threatens local land-use and zoning authority, and is an end-run around Congress and the Supreme Court.”

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Tweet Your Voice

Make your voice heard and say NO to the Clean Water Act expansion! #DitchTheRule

EPA says it will exempt farmers from the rule, so why are they concerned?

First, the exemptions are extremely narrow. They only apply to one part of the CWA, the section 404 “dredge and fill” permit program. The rule provides no protection from enforcement over other activities, such as weed control, fertilizer applications and any number of other common farm activities that may trigger CWA liability and permit requirements.

In addition, a farmer has to have been farming continuously at the same location since 1977 to benefit from the exemptions.

Proposed Rule

Definition of Waters of the United States Under the Clean Water Act | Waters of the U.S. | US EPA

Related Article

GOP lawmakers push EPA to ax proposed water rule amid outcry from farmers

So, farmers have to get permits. What’s so bad about that?

There is absolutely no legal right to a permit to “discharge” into “navigable” waters—or any deadline on an agency’s process to issue a permit. Permitting may take months or even years, or permits may simply be unavailable.

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Will this affect other people besides farmers?

EPA has said the proposed rule will benefit businesses by making it easier to determine if a body of water is covered by the Clean Water Act. Indeed, it is easier if everything is covered. But that certainly doesn’t save anyone from the costs and burdens of increased regulation.

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AFBF Statement

Statement by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding EPA’s Proposed ‘Waters’ Rule – The Voice of Agriculture – American Farm Bureau

Tweet Your Voice

Don’t let the EPA cover your land in red tape. Say NO to CWA expansion. #DitchTheRule

It sounds like EPA needs to go back to the drawing board. How do we get them to do that?

The public comment period on the proposed rule has ended, and now it is time for Congress to step in and help us Ditch the Rule!

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If dry farm fields and ordinary farm ditches and ponds are allowed to be regulated as "waters of the U.S.," farming and ranching will suffer and so will those who depend on agriculture for food.

Chris Chinn
Become a Farm Bureau Member!

Tell me more about joining the Farm Bureau family.

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Related Article

E.P.A.’s Proposed Rules on Water Worry Farmers