"Common Sense Nebraska" And The EPA

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Updated: Tue, 01 Jul 2014 06:09:55 CST

Farmers across the state are fighting back against the Environmental Protection Agency over water rights. Agricultural groups have formed the coalition Common Sense Nebraska to fight back against the EPA's Waters of the U.S. rule. The ruling would have a big effect on local farmers.

"That to me makes no common sense for a farmer to have to get a permit to plant and harvest his own crops," said Dan Niemeyer, a farmer in Webster County.

Nebraska agriculture organizations are challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's latest proposal.

"It's really troublesome as an ag producer that the EPA wants to come in and really control our land," said Mark McHargue, Vice President of the Nebraska Farm Bureau,

The new coalition, "Common Sense Nebraska" is made up of farmers and ranchers who are committed to defending their rights.

"This is stuff we do, we do it wisely, we've done it. It does not harm the ground. Let us do our job we provide the food that feeds the world," said Barbara Cooksley, Vice President of Nebraska Cattlemen.

Under the proposed ruling, the EPA would be able to regulate farming practices on land that look like this. Where normally there's no water, but after heavy rainstorms water pools. Area farmers are calling it government overreach.

"Whether it be OSHA rules or safety rules or issues of kids working on the farm, it's just another example of government over-reach an intrusion into the lives of Nebraska farm raised families," said Mark.

It's called the Waters of the US rule. Under the proposal, the EPA would essentially be able to regulate any farm land that has the potential to accumulate water.

"Of course I want clean water for my cows but they've gotta understand that this new rule where they wanna expand to anywhere water would run or stand for a little bit of time does not necessarily mean its polluting water from other streams," said Dan.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau has launched a campaign called ditch the rule. If the "Water of the U.S." rule is passed it could require farmers to have to obtain permits in order to spray, plant, and harvest.

"When mother nature does provide the opportunity to be in the field to till crops to spray crops to plant crops to build fences to do the things that you need to do on the ranch as well we need to be out there doing that we can't be waiting for permits we can't be tied up with all of the paperwork to get permits," said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau President.

Local farmers are urging the public to get involved in the fight.

"Be informed take the initiative to write a comment either to the EPA or your elected officials and then talk to your neighbors," said Barbara.

EPA extended the public comment period for the proposal from July 21st to October 20th because of pressure from agricultural groups who said they would be in working in the field for the majority of the comment period.