Column: Fighting the EPA for Our Farmers
A group of young farmers and ranchers from various places throughout Louisiana visited my office in March to make sure I knew the issues they face daily as they set about running their farms and ranches.
Some talked about crop insurance. Others voiced their support for opening up new markets on which they can sell their commodities. But the one issue that had everyone anxious was overreach from the Environmental Protection Agency, or more specifically, the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) proposed rule.
These young farmers are not alone in their concern. In fact, nearly every agricultural or waterway organization I meet with all but begs Congress to repeal the WOTUS rule because of the burdensome regulations it imposes on not only water usage, but also land usage.
Farmers, I have good news: Congress has heard you. On May 13, the House of Representatives passed the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act to withdraw the proposed WOTUS rule. As the only member of the Louisiana delegation on the House Agriculture Committee, I was proud to cosponsor and vote for this legislation and once again serve as a strong voice for our state’s farmers.
WOTUS is about control. The EPA wants to regulate a puddle because that puddle water might run into a ditch, that then it might run into a stream, that then might run into river. Such strict control over a farmer’s land and water is crippling to the proper flow of business and it infringes upon landowners’ rights.
I side with farmers they are the best conservationists on the planet. Farmers make their living off of the land, so they’d never do anything to harm it. Besides, it’s utterly ridiculous to think the federal government knows a tract of land better than the farmer who works it every day.
WOTUS became like so many other policies that are indicative of this administration: It’s a top-down, “we know better than you, do as we say” mentality. The bill the House passed changes that.
This bill withdraws the WOTUS rule. It requires the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to develop a new rule to define navigable waters of the U.S. This should prevent over regulation of water and curb abuse of the program. This bill takes real steps toward curtailing the overreach of the EPA. Under this act, the EPA must act in accordance with the limits set by Congress and the Supreme Court to ensure that the rights of landowners are not violated.
Perhaps most importantly, this bill requires that the new rule be constructed with consultation from local officials, stakeholders and other interested parties. Those who will be most affected by any new rules will have the largest hand in crafting any new policy, and the EPA will have to publish a public report to prove it is working with locals throughout the process.
The House’s action on this bill is encouraging, but we’re only a part of the way through the process. I’ll continue to monitor this legislation as it makes its way through the Senate. Hopefully, my colleagues in the other chamber will also recognize how important this legislation is to farmers and landowners and how it protects them from federal overreach.
The Regulatory Integrity Protection Act is a win for Louisiana’s farmers. With that under our belts, we can look toward other policy to help Louisiana’s farmers, such as expanding markets, promoting trade policies that are favorable to the United States and protecting farmers from foreign market manipulations.
As the representative of one of the largest row crop districts in the nation, it is my honor to go to bat every day for farmers in the 5th District. Know that I will tackle these agricultural issues as aggressively as I worked to remove the proposed WOTUS rule.