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WOTUS’ large dose of anxiety

It’s raining. For many, a rainy day conjures thoughts of sleeping in or, at the very least, a pajama day on the couch. If only it wasn’t a workday. For farmers this time of year, though, every day is a workday. However, rain means it’s a day not in the field but stuck indoors when corn needs to be shelled and soybeans harvested.

This rain also illustrates what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) intend to now regulate with the proposed “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule: every drop that comes from the sky. They would say that’s a stretch, but the language — not the EPA’s “intent” we hear so much about — used in the proposed rule leaves it open to just that.

Missouri Farm Bureau has used a little humor in the last few months to bring attention to WOTUS, because farmers and ranchers not only in Missouri but across the country see this rule as yet another power grab from bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

Our video, “That’s Enough,” with MFB members Andy and Kacey Clay garnered national attention in June and July. A parody to Disney’s “Let It Go” from the animated movie “Frozen,” the video took place on a central Missouri farm where farmers’ concerns about the rule could be highlighted. Our efforts likely played, in no small part, a role in what brought the EPA to our doorstep to stump on the rule mid-summer.

October 9, the reach of the rule became much clearer as groups from across the state convened at the MFB state headquarters to discuss in detail what the rule will mean to not only agriculture, but to home builders, small businesses, homeowners and more.

U.S. Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer and Ashley McDonald, environmental counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, as well as the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Missouri Municipal League, the National Federation of Independent Business and many others, agreed the rule would harm Missourians across the board and, more often than not, decisions affecting water quality are best made at the state and local level.

Perhaps the most jaw-dropping element shared at the roundtable was an interactive map that showed the visual extent to which the EPA intends to control ( It amounted to a near-empty outline of the state of Missouri before to a near-solid map of coverage after, but even this was conservative.

Most of the time when it rains, farmers are thankful the water is nourishing their crops or animals, but if WOTUS stands, farmers, homeowners, builders, business owners, all of us, would temper that gratitude with a large dose of anxiety as well, wondering whether the EPA might show up on our doorsteps to enforce the regulation. Ditching the rule won’t resolve all of our anxiety about the federal government’s overreach, but it would be a good start. Please do your part to urge the EPA and Corps to withdraw the rule.

Rebecca French Smith, of Columbia, Mo. is a multimedia specialist for the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization.

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