by Congressman Sam Graves 6th District of Missouri
Farmers and rural landowners in North Missouri received several pieces of good news last week.
President Trump’s EPA announced that the disastrous “Waters of the United States” rule, or WOTUS, is no more and a new Clean Water Rule will replace it.
With WOTUS, the Obama administration rewrote standing law to extend its authority onto farms and private property. It represented everything people distrust and resent about the federal government because it added more red tape for farmers and property owners who were simply trying to manage their land and make an honest living.
As a sixth-generation farmer, I found this to be a blatant abuse of our private property rights and I was disgusted that farmers and small businesses were forced to comply with overcomplicated regulations put in place by unelected bureaucrats.
I had the privilege of joining President Trump’s EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, to announce that the new definition of what constitutes “Waters of the United States” is far clearer.
Most importantly, dry creek beds, most ditches and other bodies of water that only occur when it rains have been excluded from federal regulation. The new rule will also enable private property owners to avoid spending thousands of dollars on engineers to find out if they need a federal permit for a project on their land.
While reducing onerous regulations will greatly benefit farmers, a piece of legislation that they depend on is finally finished. The Farm Bill has finally been completed, providing farmers the certainty they need to feed the world. This long-term bill preserves crop insurance, which was my number one priority, and makes improvements to commodity support programs, known as Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). It also includes important changes to conservation programs that farmers use to maintain their land.
The Farm Bill doesn’t just help farmers; it helps everyone in our rural communities. Whether it’s hospitals, water systems or schools, the Farm Bill includes programs to help build critical rural infrastructure projects including connecting rural Missourians with the broadband speed and access they need. The days of no internet availability or average internet speeds being acceptable are over. Everything we do today, from the farm fields to the classroom, requires fast, functioning broadband internet. This bill makes grants and loans available to build out broadband infrastructure to the rural areas and requires those utilizing them to maintain 21st century internet speeds.
It was a very beneficial week for rural America. I’m pleased that our farmers have been given more certainty when it comes to both farm programs and regulations. Hopefully, this will provide some peace of mind as they continue to feed the world.