The American Farm Bureau Federation has joined other groups opposing the proposal to redefine “waters of the United States.”

Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman issued the following statement on Tuesday on the potential change in the Clean Water Act:

 The EPA proposal poses a serious threat to farmers, ranchers, and other landowners. Under EPA’s proposed new rule, waters–even ditches–are regulated even if they are miles from the nearest ‘navigable’ waters. Indeed, so-called ‘waters’ are regulated even if they aren’t wet most of the time. EPA says its new rule will reduce uncertainty, and that much seems to be true: there isn’t much uncertainty if most every feature where water flows or stands after a rainfall is federally regulated.

Under this proposed rule, farmers, ranchers, and every other landowner across the countryside will face a tremendous new roadblock to ordinary land use activities.  This is not just about the paperwork of getting a permit to farm, or even about having farming practices regulated.  The fact is there is no legal right to a Clean Water Act permit–if farming or ranching activities need a permit, EPA, or the Army Corps of Engineers, can deny that permit.  That’s why Clean Water Act jurisdiction over farmlands amounts to nothing less than federal veto over a farmer’s ability to farm.

The American Farm Bureau Federation will dedicate itself to opposing this attempted end run around the limits set by Congress and the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that Congress meant what it said:  “navigable waters” does not mean all waters.  This proposed rule shows that EPA refuses to accept those limits.