WASHINGTON, May 30, 2014— In a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and USDA this week, more than 70 agriculture stakeholder groups requested more time to comment on EPA’s proposed rule on waters of the United States.
The groups requested extensions of the comment period on a proposed regulation defining “waters of the United States” and an accompanying agricultural exemptions rule related to changes in the Clean Water Act (CWA). The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers issued the proposed rule in April to clarify the agencies’ authority under the CWA over various waters.
“This rule has the potential to impact a large majority of the things we do as farmers each day within our operations,” said American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser. “We have to look at the many different ways the rule could affect the way we operate, and integrate those into our comments. To do that, we need a little more time.”
The organizations are asking for an additional 90 days beyond the July 21 deadline for submitting comments on the proposed rule, or 90 days after EPA releases the “Connectivity Report,” which is supposed to serve as the scientific basis for any expansion of CWA jurisdiction.
For the agricultural exemptions rule, the groups are requesting that the comment deadline coincide with the closing date for the proposed rule but be at least an additional 45 days beyond the current June 5 deadline.
The groups said the rule would redefine “waters of the United States” to include intermittent and ephemeral streams, which could potentially affect agriculture.
Additionally, they said the timing of the comment period and stakeholder public meetings coincide with one of the busiest times for farmers, who are “preparing soil for planting, planting and replanting seed, applying crop nutrients and crop protection products, and harvesting hay and winter wheat crops.”
“More than two-thirds of the comment period for the proposed rule occurs when we are in the fields round the clock, not sitting at our computers reading regulatory proposals.” said National Pork Producers Council President Howard Hill.
The groups that signed the letter include:
National Pork Producers Council
American Farm Bureau Federation
Agricultural Retailers Association
American Horse Council
American Soybean Association
Exotic Wildlife Association
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Barley Growers Association
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
National Chicken Council
National Corn Growers Association
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Sunflower Association
The Fertilizer Institute
United Egg Producers
U.S. Canola Association
U.S. Cattlemen's Association
U.S. Dry Bean Council
U.S. Poultry and Egg
USA Rice Federation
Agri-Mark Dairy Cooperative
Arkansas Pork Producers Association
California Association of Winegrape Growers
California Milk Producers Association
Colorado Pork Producers Council
Dairy Producers of Utah
Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc.
Georgia Pork Producers Association
Idaho Dairymen’s Association
Illinois Pork Producers Association
Iowa Pork Producers Association
Kansas Pork Association
Kentucky Pork Producers Association
Maine Hog Growers Association
Michigan Pork Producers Association
Minnesota Pork Producers Association
Missouri Dairy Association
Missouri Pork Producers Association
Mississippi Pork Producers Association
Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Inc.
New York Pork Producers Cooperative
North Carolina Pork Council, Inc.
Northeast Dairy Farmers Cooperatives
Ohio Pork Producers Council
Oklahoma Pork Council
Oregon Association of Nurseries
Oregon Dairy Farmers Association
Plains Cotton Growers, Inc.
Riverside & Landowners Protection Coalition
St. Albans Cooperative Creamery
South Dakota Pork Producers Council
South East Dairy Farmers Association
South Texas Cotton and Grain Association
Tennessee Pork Producers Association
Texas Association of Dairymen
Texas Cattle Feeders Association
Texas Forestry Association
Texas Pork Producers Association
Texas Poultry Federation
Texas Sheep & Goat Raisers Association
Turfgrass Producers of Texas
Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc.
Utah Pork Producers Association
Virginia Farm Bureau
Virginia Pork Industry Association
Virginia Poultry Federation
Illinois Pork Producers Council
Western United Dairymen
West Virginia Pork Producers Council
Wisconsin Pork Producers Association
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