Summer is a busy time for Kansas families: Ballgames, the swimming pool, family vacations and back-to-school activities fill our days.
Kansas farmers and ranchers have been busy this summer, too. We’ve tended corn, milo and soybean crops and herded cattle. In many parts of the state, we’ve given thanks for rains that have temporarily eased a punishing drought.
Unfortunately, we’ve also spent the summer battling the Environmental Protection Agency over a proposal that drastically expands the federal government’s control over Kansas waterways.
The proposal says farm ditches, flood-control levees or streams that feed into golf-course ponds could be under its power; it even includes low spots that only hold water after it rains.
The EPA says it’s actually exempting many farm, ranch and land-use activities from this troubling proposal, but when we started digging into the language, we found the opposite to be true.
Home builders, developers, country clubs and farmers would have to get a permit before working around these “waters” even for just a few days out of the year. If they don’t, they could be fined more than $37,000 per day for simple tasks like putting up a fence, spraying for weeds, moving dirt or grazing cattle. Fines like that would drive any small company – the backbone of the Kansas economy – out of business.
Farmers, ranchers and other groups have been pushing back and urging EPA to “Ditch the Rule.” Our concerns, though, have been dismissed as “ludicrous” and even a “myth.”
In a democratic society, citizens have the right – and the responsibility – to speak up when government decisions impact their way of life. In turn, a government that derives its power from the governed must be willing to listen to its citizens.
Farm Bureau members across Kansas will continue to fight the EPA’s power grab, but we could use some help from our off-farm neighbors and friends.
Farmers and ranchers, head over to the nearest county Farm Bureau office and ask about the “Ditch the Rule” effort.
Talk to the folks at school, church or your civic club about how the EPA’s proposal would affect almost every stream and ditch in Kansas and dictate how landowners use their property.
Tell the EPA to “Ditch the Rule.”
Steve Baccus is president of the Kansas Farm Bureau. He farms in Ottawa County.