WOTUS Round Table Lacks Diversity According to Farm Bureau 

May 12, 2022

The American Farm Bureau Federation expressed its disappointment following the first EPA stakeholder meeting regarding changes to the Waters of the U.S. Rule (WOTUS), held Monday.

According to Courtney Briggs, AFBF senior director of government affairs, the EPA didn’t address farmers’ need for clear rules and lacked diversity needed to discuss WOTUS.

“In theory, these meetings are designed to bring folks with different perspectives together to talk about regionally specific implementation concerns pertaining to WOTUS,” Briggs said.

“And the list of participants for this first roundtable was diverse on paper, but we are very concerned about the lack of diversity of experience on the panel. And few of these participants have actually navigated the regulatory process associated with Clean Water Act compliance.”

Last year, officials at the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers announced they would rewrite the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, continuing a nearly decade long back and forth on the issue.

Although Michigan is one of three states with delegated authority to implement key portions of the Clean Water Act, the possibility of EPA overreaching into the ability for states and private landowners to decide what waters are regulated raises many red flags.

EPA announced a total of 10 scheduled roundtables, with the next taking place on May 23. Most of the remaining meetings will be held in June.

While AFBF said it will stay engaged in the process, Briggs noted they were “very disappointed” in what they saw from the initial meeting.

“First, I think the credibility of the roundtable was hurt by the lack of any mainstream agricultural representatives at the meeting,” Briggs added.

“Additionally, there was really no meaningful discussion of the law. So, EPA can only make an informed decision if it seeks out and listens to all viewpoints, and we share the goal of clean water that was expressed by many of the participants, but farmers and ranchers need clear rules and this roundtable failed to address how both of those goals can be achieved.”

The nine more selected roundtables can be livestreamed on the following days using the following links:

National Parks Conservation Association (Midwest) May 9, 2022, from 10:30am-1:00pm EDT—View Livestream Here

Regenerative Agriculture Foundation (Midwest)  May 23, 2022, from 4:00pm-6:30pm EDT—View Livestream Here

Arizona Farm Bureau (Southwest) June 2, 2022, from 3:00pm-5:30pm EDT—View Livestream Here

Kansas Livestock Association (Midwest) June 6, 2022, from 4:00pm-6:30pm EDT—View Livestream Here

Cahaba Brewing (Southeast) June 7, 2022, from 10:00am-12:30pm EDT—View Livestream Here

Amigos Bravos (Southwest) June 13, 2022, from 3:00pm-5:30pm EDT—View Livestream Here

California Farm Bureau (West) June 16, 2022, from 2:00pm-4:30pm EDT—View Livestream Here

Natural Resources Defense Council (Northeast) June 21, 2022, from 1:00pm-3:30pm EDT—View Livestream Here

North Carolina Farm Bureau (Southeast) June 23, 2022, from 2:00pm-4:30pm EDT—View Livestream Here

Wyoming County Commissioners Association / Montana Association of Counties / Idaho Association of Counties (West) June 24, 2022, from 2:00pm-4:30pm EDT—View Livestream Here

Source: Western Ag Network, AFBF, EPA