Capitol Report: EPA War on Rural America

Aug 29, 2014

Over the last two weeks I have visited dozens of farms and ranches and listened to hundreds of farmers on my second annual Eighth Congressional District Farm Tour. Agriculture in South-Central and Southeast Missouri is incredibly diverse. If fact, we grow everything except citrus and sugar. While the crops we grow and the livestock we raise are diverse, every farmer I talked to in the last two weeks brought up the same topic: the EPA war on rural America.

No other federal agency pushes more intrusive and ineffective regulations on farmers than the Environmental Protection Agency. On the Farm Tour, the EPA’s proposed “Waters of the United States” plan was discussed numerous times. Back in April, the EPA announced it would attempt to expand the regulatory reach of the Clean Water Act through a new “Waters of the United States” plan. The proposed new rule would give Washington bureaucrats the power to regulate nearly every area of the ground that gets wet or has water flow during rainfall. The rule could be viewed in a way that would expand the EPA’s reach to cover all ponds, puddles, temporary or small wetlands, rain gutters, irrigation ditches, or similar collections of water. While the proposed rule would impact every American, it would have a particularly devastating impact on rural communities.

Agriculture is the driving force of the economy in our region of Missouri. The EPA’s “Waters of the United States” proposal would force farmers who use fertilizers and pesticides to jump through needless and costly regulatory hoops. Livestock farmers could be forced to put a buffer zone between their animals and any body of water. In an effort to fight the invasive “Waters of the United States” proposal, I had a provision included in the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill that would ban funds from being used to enact the new rule. I am submitting nearly 50 pages of comments outlining the disastrous impact “Waters of the United States” would have on our region. If the EPA continues its war on rural America, I will continue using every possible avenue to protect rural Missouri.

Too often bureaucrats in Washington draft new rules without understanding or appreciating the impact they will have on rural America. Washington regulators have essentially declared war on rural America. Most people just want a federal government that will get out of the way and stop hurting economic growth and limiting individual freedom. As your voice in the House of Representatives, I will continue fighting the “Waters of the United States” proposal and all other Washington regulations that would harm our rural way of life.