What’s usually a dry branch running east along a field I drive by often is for now a driving torrent of water running across the road. The field is awash. I wonder if the Environmental Protection Agency can now tell the farmer who farms it what he can or can’t do with his field.
A proposed new rule outlines EPA’s interpretation of the 1972 Clean Water Act. The rule was posted for comments to the Federal Registry on April 21. It caused a stir. The American Farm Bureau Federation asked its members ‘to resist’ the new rule, worrying it gives EPA too much power to regulate routine farming and ranching and expands too much federal control over land features such as ditches and agricultural land wet only during storms.
The EPA says differently and that farming will get special consideration in regard to the rule, but AFBF isn’t convinced.
With the rain that has hit much of the Southeast so far this year, most fields and pastures now have flooding caused from storms. Water is standing or flowing in all directions. Here’s a picture of a Bald Eagle standing in water in a flooded corn field in south Georgia. Several rain-created, half-acre-sized ponds were scattered throughout the field and water was gushing out in several places.
Listen, we need regulations. Don’t get me wrong here. An unregulated society is pretty much the definition of anarchy. I’m no anarchist. I know way too many shady characters who if there was no fear of reprisal from breaking regulations or laws would likely stroll naked in their yards waving a liquor bottle in one hand and a pistol in the other on the way to get their mail each afternoon. But, I guess, if you live in the country with the nearest neighbor a mile away, such behavior if you like is fine on your property. (Don’t know what that says about my character that I might know such people. I just know a lot of people; a lot of characters.)
I understand that people need jobs and that regulating is a job, and we need some regulation for some things. I know some regulators, and they are nice, hardworking people. But a giant governmental agency that regulates and has people who regulate for a living has no incentive not to regulate more. A vicious cycle can start, either to justify jobs or to lobby to get more funding or to maintain current government funding.
And at the rate the government is growing now, America might just end up a country of regulators regulating regulators, forced to eat unregulated food from a foreign country as we regulate our food supply to nothing.
Farmers are regulators, too, self-regulators who are professionals. And to be truthful, most farmers understand and appreciate governmental regulations and their benefits to the overall ag community. Sound guidelines and good practices over the long haul work. But also a sound debate before and after regulations go into effect is good practice, at least in a country with sound government oversight.
This issue, like many, gets thrown into the political push and pull, which is fine. It should. Government, the EPA flavor in this case, pushes a new regulation. Organized interest groups, in this case the AFBF, pull back with their opinion on it. And for now in America such things remain public knowledge and that is important.
You know regulators are watching and they're looking to look for more and deeper, so keep your eyes on them and hopefully this righteous attempt at regulator ruling, one of many, will get relegated.