Kansas Ag Alliance Asks State Leaders to Oppose EPA Water Plan

Groups belonging to the Kansas Agricultural Alliance (KAA) are calling on the state’s congressional delegation, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to join forces against a federal proposal that would place additional burdens on farmers, ranchers and rural businesses. The proposed waters of the U.S. rule, according to KAA leadership, would infringe on state sovereignty by expanding federal jurisdiction over ponds and ditches in Kansas.

Through broad definitions of the terms “tributary” and “adjacent waters” contained in the proposal, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Corps of Engineers are effectively claiming all waters as federal. KAA points out, in some cases, the agencies would have regulatory control over dry land through the inclusion of floodplains and riparian areas.

“Under the proposal, permits would be required for routine farming activities like the application of commercial fertilizer or spreading organic compost,” said KAA President Dalton Henry, who is the government affairs specialist for Kansas Wheat.

KAA analysis of the proposal suggests these additional requirements will prevent expansion, conservation practice implementation and other activities that provide benefits to Kansas and its agricultural community. The rule also would require the use of additional Kansas resources as EPA subjects waters traditionally regulated by the state to federal quality standards and total maximum daily load requirements.

“While the U.S. Supreme Court has not provided great clarity on the issue, it was clear on one thing: there is a limit to federal jurisdiction,” said KLA Vice President of Legal Affairs Aaron Popelka, the president-elect of KAA. “Kansas does not need EPA and the Corps taking over the central tenets of state and local government.”

KAA is asking the governor and attorney general to defend the state’s right to protect water quality in formal comments on the proposal. Alliance leaders are suggesting U.S. senators and representatives from Kansas work with their colleagues in Congress to stop the federal regulatory over-reach by turning back this burdensome proposal.

“Kansas does not need EPA and the Corps taking over the central tenets of state and local government,” said Randy Stookey, who serves as vice president/treasurer of KAA. Stookey is vice president and general counsel for the Kansas Grain and Feed Association.

KAA members consist of statewide farm, livestock, commodity, cooperative, agri-business and agri-service organizations.  Its purpose is promote the general welfare of agriculture and rural communities within the State and Nation, with special emphasis upon legislative activities affecting agriculture, rural areas and cooperative services.  KAA members include the Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association, Kansas Association of Conservation Districts, Kansas Association of Ethanol Processors, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, Kansas Cooperative Council, Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Grain and Feed Association, Kansas Livestock Association, Kansas Pork Association, Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association, Kansas Soybean Association, and Kansas Veterinary Medical Association.