State Farm Bureau leaders say a new “Waters of the U.S.” rule from the Biden administration could have outsized impacts on producers in California, echoing a chorus of alarms from national agricultural groups over the rewrite.

EPA rolled out its long-awaited language last week, issuing a rule that many observers say does not go as far as the rule issued during the Obama administration but much further than what was offered by the Trump administration. The rule maintains exemptions for agricultural activities, but tweaks exclusions for prior converted cropland in the Trump administration’s rule.

California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson said the new rule — if finalized — would have a “substantial effect on our members and the ability of our farmers and ranchers in California to continue to utilize their land.” He also noted the group was “particularly concerned about small farms and ranches needing costly legal or consulting expertise to farm ground they have already thoughtfully and sustainably stewarded.”

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The rule, not yet a week old, is already being analyzed for its potential legal vulnerabilities, especially as the Supreme Court ponders an opinion on a related case. In October, the high court heard arguments on Sackett vs. EPA, a case seeking to outline wetlands determinations that is widely seen as having major WOTUS implications. The nation’s farm groups had pleaded with EPA to hold off on issuing new language until the Supreme Court had a chance to rule in the Sackett case.

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