EPA Announces Final
Rule On New Clean
Water Act’s Jurisdiction
Posted By: Frank Giles, Meister Media | May 28, 2015
The EPA has announced its final rule on the agency’s new
Clean Water Act, which also has been identified as “waters
of the U.S.” (WOTUS) as the debate over the policy
unfolded in recent years. According to the agency, the new
rule was necessary to clarify its jurisdiction in regulating
the Clean Water Act.
Many farm groups raised alarm when EPA announced it
planned to redefine what is considered WOTUS to clarify
confusion left in the wake of two U.S. Supreme Court
decisions in 2001 and 2006. The farm groups said of the
initial proposal that many places where water collected or
runs off might now be considered subject to Clean Water
Act regulation. The American Farm Bureau Federation
even created a hash tag campaign (#Ditch TheRule) to oppose the change, noting that ditches might now be considered WOTUS.
In announcing the final rule, EPA officials have insisted
that all previous Clean Water Act exemptions and exclusions for agriculture remain in place and the farm sector
has nothing to worry about. The agency further noted only
ditches that feed into a protected waterway would now be
subject to the Act.
However, farm groups remain skeptical. American Farm
Bureau’s president Bob Stallman released the following
statement on the final rule: “We are undertaking a thorough
analysis of the final WOTUS rule to determine whether
the EPA listened to the substantive comments farmers and
ranchers submitted during the comment period. Based
on EPA’s aggressive advocacy campaign in support of its
original proposed rule – and the agency’s numerous misstatements about the content and impact of that proposal
– we find little comfort in the agency’s assurances that our
concerns have been addressed in any meaningful way.
“The process used to produce this rule was flawed. The
EPA’s proposal transgressed clear legal boundaries set for
it by Congress and the courts and dealt more with regulating land use than protecting our nation’s valuable water
resources. EPA’s decision to mount an aggressive advocacy
campaign during the comment period has tainted what
should have been an open and thoughtful deliberative
process. While we know that farmers and ranchers were
dedicated to calling for substantial changes to the rule, we
have serious concerns about whether their comments were
given full consideration.
We are looking in particular at how the rule treats so-called
ephemeral streams, ditches, small ponds and isolated wet-lands. We will decide on an appropriate course of action
once that review is complete.”
The rule will become effective 60 days after publication in
the Federal Register.
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With the tenuous relationship between EPA and Congress,
it is expected that lawsuits and congressional hearings will
take place, and potentially delay the implementation of this
final rule. Stay posted.
Farm Leaders Program
The United States has a rich agricultural history,
with watermelon farmers serving as a shining
example of the American Farmer. Family farms
once employed nearly half of the country’s work
force, but that has changed to about 2% of today’s
workers, with an average farmer’s age now exceeding 58.
There are numerous benefits to experienced leadership in every business, especially in our storied
National Watermelon Association. Furthermore,
it is our responsibility to contribute to the sustain-ability of the future of our industry by creating a
pathway that will encourage a consistent influx of
new leaders with fresh perspectives with energy
and ideas to pursue new opportunities.
Replacing the Young Ag Speech Competition, a
brand new program, called The Future Watermelon
Farm Leaders (FWFL), has been created which
recognizes and celebrates the next generation of
growers who will lead the industry (and this great
Association) into the future. They represent the
generation that will meet the demands of a growing global population, sustain family farms, and
provide the nutritious food that will feed the world.
The award applicants will be judged by an expert
panel based on several criteria from within the applicants’ completed entries. The winner(s) will be
notified no later than December 1, 2015, and will
win the following:
• Induction into the Inaugural Class of the Future
Watermelon Farm Leaders program
• Invitation to the 2016 National Watermelon Association convention, to be held from February
25-27, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
• Coach flight transportation, airport transfers, convention
registration, a hotel room for 3 nights, and meals.
• Recognition and induction into the FWFL program at
the national convention
• An invitation to participate on an Association committee to begin your leader experience
• An award to display as an Alumni member of the
• Age of candidates: 18-32 years of age by February 1st,
• No current chapter or national watermelon queen will
be eligible to compete.
• Candidate must be employed at least part time on a
farm or directly related farm business (i.e. harvesting, packing, broker, etc.)
• The completed entry form must be submitted by October 1, 2015.
The future of watermelon farming, and of the National
Watermelon Association, will be in the hands of young
farmers soon. We encourage future watermelon farmers
to apply for this program. While they experience the
NWA convention, they will begin to build the future of
their Association while continuing the respected trade of
a watermelon farmer.
Go to WWW. WATERMELON.AG for more information.
Congress Considers Two
E-Verify Mandate Bills
Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) introduced legislation
into the Senate that would permanently authorize
and require all employers to use the E-Verify program to check that new hires are eligible to work
in the United States. The Accountability Through
Electronic Verification Act of 2015 is the Senate’s
counterpart to a similar bill the House Judiciary
Committee passed in March.
The E-Verify program is currently voluntary for
most employers, except in some states and for
federal contractors. The online system compares
workers’ Form I- 9 information to Social Security
Administration and Department of Homeland
Security data to make sure they have U.S. work
The E-Verify program is due to expire on
Sept. 30, 2015.
The Senate proposal would:
• Permanently reauthorize the E-Verify program.
• Make the program mandatory for all employers
within one year of the date of enactment, require
federal contractors and agencies to use the program
immediately, and direct “critical employers,” as
identified by the Department of Homeland Security, to use the system within 30 days of designation.
• Increase penalties for employers who illegally
hire undocumented workers.
• Reduce employers’ liability regarding wrongful
termination of an individual, when employers use
• Allow employers to use E-Verify before a person
• Require employers to check the status of all current employees within three years.
• Require employers to re-verify an employee’s immigration status, if the employment authorization
is due to expire.
The legislation has been referred to the Senate
Differences with the House Version:
• The House bill would phase in the requirement to
use E-Verify over a two-year period instead of requiring compliance after one year (Senate version).
• It also delays compliance for the agriculture industry, which would have three years to comply with the
• The Senate bill would allow employees who are
not confirmed by the E-Verify system to contest the
• The Senate bill would require employers to use
E-Verify to check the work authorization of existing
employees within three years, which currently is prohibited. The House bill would allow, but not require,
employers to check existing employees’ status.
• The House bill would not allow employers to use
E-Verify to check the employment authorization of
prospective employees, while the Senate bill does.
From our Association’s standpoint, we are committed
to stand firmly against E-Verify without the presence
of a fix to our labor situation. Without legal access
to a stable workforce, E-Verify would potentially create a nutritional and health crisis that our country has
never seen before.
We stand together with our peers, counterparts and
friends throughout agriculture with this requirement
of our legislators. We can accept E-Verify, but only
with a workable and sensible fix to our access to a
viable labor workforce (immigration reform). We
stopped E-Verify bills in the past with this same sensible reasoning, and if need be, we will rise up once