EPA Says New Rule Supports Conservation

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EPA received more than one million public comments concerning the the Final Waters of the United States rule, and officials say input from farmers and ranchers, factored heavily into their decisions.

For example, farm groups are encouraging Iowa farmers to implement new conservation practices from the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, but altering landscape features may alter EPA’s jurisdiction as well.

Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Water, Ken Kopocis, says the rule attempts to support conservation efforts, ”We wanted to make sure that those opportunities continue. In fact we created some new exclusions for things like grass swales which I know are common in Iowa as a way to slow silt runoff and nutrient runoff from farm fields so that was another area where we went in listened to folks that we want to make sure we can encourage in terms of people's actions and not discourage.”

President of Iowa Farm Bureau, Craig Hill, says the rule did little to clear up farmers’ concerns about complying with EPA’s rule in the course of normal farm work. He says that confusion alone might talk a lot of producers out of conservation practices they otherwise would have tried.

Hill says, "Whether they're lawful or not is now brought into question. So the practices we're doing, the things that we thought were good and proper and best management may not be lawful if you read this document. So there'll be great concern, great apprehension, and great reluctance to perform conservation knowing that you could be assessed a fine, a penalty, or be charged with breaching the Clean Water Act."