The Environmental Protection Agency’s first WOTUS roundtable Monday didn’t address farmers need for clear rules, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Courtney Briggs, AFBF senior director of government affairs, said the first roundtable lacked diversity needed to discuss WOTUS.
"In theory, these meetings are designed to bring folks with different perspectives together to talk about regionally specific implementation concerns pertaining to WOTUS," Briggs said. "And the list of participants for this first roundtable was diverse on paper, but we are very concerned about the lack of diversity of experience on the panel. And few of these participants have actually navigated the regulatory process associated with Clean Water Act compliance."
Briggs said Farm Bureau was disappointed in the results.
"We were very disappointed. First, I think the credibility of the roundtable was hurt by the lack of any mainstream agricultural representatives at the meeting," Briggs said. "Additionally, there was really no meaningful discussion of the law. So, EPA can only make an informed decision if it seeks out and listens to all viewpoints, and we share the goal of clean water that was expressed by many of the participants, but farmers and ranchers need clear rules and this roundtable failed to address how both of those goals can be achieved."
Briggs added that Farm Bureau will stay engaged in the process.
"There are ten roundtables, so nine more to come. The next one will take place on May 23," Briggs said. "All the other meetings are pretty much concentrated in the month of June, so definitely more to come on this."