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

Croplife America

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

Indiana Pork

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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