harvesting file photo

The U.S. EPA is turning back the clock on WOTUS to 2015, citing the need for a “stable and certain” definition of WOTUS.

“In recent years, the only constant with WOTUS has bene change, creating a whiplash in how to best protect our waters in communities across America,” EOA Administration Michale S. Regan said. “Through our engagement with stakeholders across the country, we’ve heard overwhelming calls for a durable definition of WOTUS that protects the environment and that is grounded in the experience of those who steward our waters. Today’s action advances our process toward a stronger rule that achieves our shared priorities.”

The change follows on recent U.S. District Court decision in Arizona and New Mexico, which have both vacated the Navigable Waters Protection Rule implemented by the Trump administration.

Meanwhile, the administration is working on refining the definition of WOTUS in both implementation and future regulatory actions. Comments will be taken on the proposed rule for 60 days once it has been published in the Federal Register.

The move drew swift criticism from the North Dakota Congressional delegation.

“The EPA’s proposal undermines the certainty we worked to provide with the NWPR and is part of President Biden’s efforts to impose burdensome and costly mandates under a new WOTUS definition,” Sen. John Hoeven said. “The Obama-era WOTUS rule was wrong for our nation, and our farmers, ranchers and energy producers, to name a few of the impacted industries, cannot afford a similar overreach from the Biden administration.”

Cramer pointed out that the moves contribute to more of the very whiplash the administration said it is trying to avoid.

“It’s a shame the Trump Administration’s rule was repealed at all. Americans deserve better than regulatory ping pong,” Cramer said. “I look forward to hosting EPA and the Corps of Engineers (today, Monday, Nov. 22) in Bismarck to give North Dakotans the opportunity to put our priorities in front of the Biden Administration as the process moves forward.”

Rep. Kelly Armstrong, meanwhile, said the Obama-era rule is a “disaster” for North Dakota farmers and ranchers.

“Now, the Biden administration is trying to revive this failed one-size-fits-all policy that will destroy their livelihoods and decimate our rural communities,” he said. “I will continue to advocate for policies that work with states, not against them, to achieve environmental progress.”

Hoeven presses for timeline on agriculture aid

USDA should provide producers with a timeline for distribution of the $10 billion in disaster assistance, including $750 million specifically for livestock producers, which was approved by Congress in September, Sen. John Hoeven says.

Hoeven leads the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, and the aid was something he pushed for. He and Sen. Tammy Baldwin are pressing USDA to immediately provide a timeline for distribution of the aid.

“Our farmers and ranchers have been facing historic drought conditions, and they need help right now. That’s why we worked to secure this assistance and have repeatedly stressed to USDA the importance of providing aid as quickly and as effectively as possible,” Hoeven said. “Senator Baldwin and I pressed Secretary Vilsack to provide our producers with USDA’s plan and timeline for providing this assistance, which is vital as our producers work to plan their operations.”

Included in the aid was $9.25 billion for disaster assistance to producers who suffered loss due to droughts, hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and other qualifying disasters in 2020 and 2021. The funding extended WHIP+ for those years. The $750 million in livestock funding is for losses from drought and wildfire in 2021.

Soil Health Cover Crop Grant Program open

Farmers can get cost-share assistance for cover crops that promote soil health from North Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Soil Health Cover Crop Grant Program.

“As a conservation program, the primary goal of the program is to protect and enhance soil health statewide,” Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “In particular, the program targets cropland areas impacted with saline or alkaline soils.”

Or contact Jason Wirtz by phone at 701-220-1628 or by email at jwirtz@nd.gov.

To be eligible, the cover crops must have been planted by Aug. 31, 2021, and the online application must be complete by De.c 1, 2021. The cost-share is $15 per acre for applicants, and the grant is limited to 50 acres per year.

Applications open for feed transportation cost-share

Producers who do not qualify for the Emergency Assistance for Livestock Program may still be able to get some assistance for some of their feed transportation expenses from the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.

Applications are now open for the state’s emergency feed transportation assistance program, which has $2.5 million available to help farmers who either purchased feed or had to move cattle outside their normal area of operation.

A complete list of eligibility requirements and details is available online at www.nd.gov/ndda/eftap along with applications. Questions may be asked by either emailing haytransport@nd.gov or calling 1-844-642-4752.

“The drought drastically reduced forage production and many producers have had to purchase and transport supplemental feed,” North Dakota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “This program will assist producers who have transportation costs for feed or co-products hauled less than 25 miles, silage hauled any distance and moving breeding livestock to a feed source.”

The deadline to submit applications is Dec. 15. To be eligible, the transportation costs must have been incurred between April 8, 2021 and Nov. 30, 2021, and must have been for the producer’s own livestock operation.

NFU launches anti-monopoly campaign

National Farmers Union has launched the Fairness for Farmers Campaign to push the Biden administration and Congress to take concrete steps to curtail consolidation in agriculture, which is negatively affecting farmers, ranchers, and consumers.

This endeavor has clear goals: to curtail consolidation in agriculture and bust the monopolies, which hurts farmers, ranchers and consumers,” NFU President Rob Larew said. “We launched Fairness for Farmers because we have a President who is committed to taking on the challenge of fighting consolidation in agriculture. We are all buoyed by President Joe Biden’s Executive Order on ‘Promoting Competition in the Marketplace’—a commitment from his Administration to restore fairness to our economy.”

NFU wants to see enforcement of the packers and Stockyards act as well as reform, better price discovery and transparent market information, more competition and diverse market opportunities, and reinvigorated antitrust enforcement.

Farmers and ranchers are being encouraged to share videos of their stories online as part of the campaign. For details, visit https://nfu.org/fairness-for-farmers/ .

NFU is also working across the nation to engage local media and purchasing advertising campaigns across digital and radio platforms, and they are pushing lawmakers and regulators to support strengthening pro-competition laws and regulations.

Larew added: “I do believe we are in for a fight. The giants who dominate our food and agriculture industry are not going to be toppled without a struggle.” He concluded: “But Farmers Union members, and everyone who joined me today, are not afraid of a fight and are ready to stand up for fairness.”

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