U.S. EPA administrator Michael Regan spoke to state agricultural regulators at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture’s annual meeting.
Regan pledged to work with the agricultural community to rewrite the Waters of the United States rule (WOTUS) with continued exemptions for farming and ranching, reported Capital Press News. EPA is considering regulatory action on the herbicide dicamba and will soon appoint an agricultural adviser (ag) at EPA.
NASDA President and Kentucky’s commissioner of agriculture Ryan Quarles led the discussion and conversed with Regan about the Trump-era WOTUS rule.
Many farmers and ranchers have criticized the rule as an example of federal overreach and overregulation, reported Capital Press News.
“Farmers and ranchers need certainty, and they shouldn’t have to hire a team of lawyers or environmental experts to understand if they’re subject to this rule or regulations or how to comply to it,” said Quarles.
Regulations have exempted from jurisdiction prior-converted croplands, which will remain under a rewritten WOTUS, according to Regan.
“Normal farming, silviculture and ranching activities, as defined by the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 that could take place in a jurisdictional waterway or wetland, will not require a permit,” said Regan, reported Capital Press News. “This exemption includes many common activities like plowing, seeding and minor drainage as well as activities like construction and maintenance of irrigation ditches.”
The EPA will not be reinstating the Navigable Waters Protection Rule or the Clean Water Rule, added Regan.
EPA is talking with state and tribal leaders and the agency will propose an initial draft in November. EPA will then modify the rule through roundtable conversations and the final rule should be issued the following winter, according to Regan, reported Capital Press News.
Quarles asked Regan about dicamba, and EPA has been reviewing the pesticide’s safety record. The agency sent letters to Bayer, BASF, Syngenta and Corteva Sept. 9 asking for more information on dicamba injury reports from the 2021 season, reported Capital Press News.
Regan said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has been helping him find a suitable candidate to appoint an ag adviser at EPA by late October.