One of the major wins for America’s farmers and ranchers has proved to be quite controversial, particularly in the Chesapeake Bay region. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed a new Clean Water rule, which would rescind the 2015 “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule under the Clean Water Act.
The 2015 rule never went into effect nationwide because of several court rulings that deemed it unconstitutional. A lack of clarity in the rule made it difficult for farmers and ranchers to know what they could or could not do on their land. Under the 2015 rule, flooded farmland in Maryland from the torrential rain we received this year could have been subject to federal oversight. A team of lawyers, environmental engineers, and consultants would have been needed to ensure we were farming in accordance with the law.
While this new rule relieves the burden of wondering if a sometimes-there, sometimes-gone swale, ditch, or pond on a farm is federally regulated, our commitment to conservation and improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay has not wavered.