If the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) proposal goes into effect as written, farmers and ranchers will need government permits to conduct some routine practices. As examples, KLA Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs Aaron Popelka told ranchers attending the Beef Fest Producers’ Seminar in Emporia they could be forced to obtain a 402 permit to apply manure and commercial fertilizer or 404 permits for building stock ponds. In addition, when the proposed rule’s expanded jurisdiction is coupled with EPA’s new interpretive rule governing agriculture exemptions, producers would need to seek Natural Resources Conservation Service approval for common activities like prescribed burning, grazing cattle and building grass waterways.
     He said EPA basically is expanding a regulation that since 1993 has been twice invalidated for being too broad by the U.S. Supreme Court. It would dramatically expand the definition of “navigable waters” that fall under EPA jurisdiction in accordance with the Clean Water Act. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is projecting classified stream miles will increase from the current 30,620 to 134,338 under WOTUS.
     “EPA claims there are exceptions to the rule, but the exemptions defined in the proposal are worded to provide little or no benefit to agriculture, and many of the terms are undefined, leaving it up to EPA to fill in the blank as it pleases,” he said.
     Popelka encouraged ranchers to provide input to EPA on how the proposal will specifically affect their businesses. KLA has simplified the process for ranchers, regardless of whether they are KLA members or not. Click here to submit comments.

KLA Vice President of Communications Todd Domer says the chief executive officer and executive vice president of the Kansas Livestock Association is stepping aside after 31 years in the position.