Posted 4 months ago
By Kevin Horn
Alliance – “Ditch the rule” is one of the hot topics expected to receive heavy discussion Tuesday, August 26, at the Box Butte County Farm Bureau annual meeting at the Westside Event Center, Alliance, at 6:15 p.m. dinner and business meeting.
“Agriculture groups such as the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation have formed a coalition called Common Sense Nebraska to fight back against the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule, “said Mary Crawford, farmer-rancher and Box Butte County Farm Bureau president.
“The Farm Bureau campaign, ‘ditch the rule,’ outlines our concerns to overregulation and attempts by the EPA to regulate farming practices,” Crawford added.
Under the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) proposal, the EPA would essentially be able to regulate any farm land that has the potential to accumulate water, Crawford explained.
“If passed as an EPA rule, this proposal would be extremely detrimental to how many of us have efficiently and environmentally-safely conducted our farming practices for generations.”
Most of the Box Butte County Farm Bureau members own family-operated enterprises. If the “Water of the U.S.” rule is passed, it could require farmers to have to obtain permits in order to spray, plant, and harvest, she said.
Mark McHargue of Central City, vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, will be a guest speaker at the county session. He irrigated corn and popcorn, and has a farrow-to-finish swine operation on the Merrick County family farm operated with his wife, Judi.
“It’s really troublesome, as an ag producer, that the EPA wants to come in and really control our land,” says McHargue. “Whether it is OSHA rules, or safety rules, or issues of kids working on the farm, it’s just another example of government over-reach and intrusion into the lives of Nebraska farm-raised families.”
Other topics for the Box Butte County Farm Bureau will include proposals for policy development at the state convention in December, along with election of county officers and board members, and state convention delegates and alternates.
Tricia Schumacher of Hemingford serves as vice-president, Kathy Dye, Alliance, as secretary-treasurer, and Jeff and Natasha Schumacher of Hemingford, as Young Farmer-Rancher Committee representatives. Alice Sibbitt, a Hyannis rancher, chairs ag promotion and education efforts.
Other board directors are Bart Dye, Mark Vaughn, Corrina Robbins, all of Alliance, and Ken Hucke of Hemingford.
Meal reservations and membership details can be directed to Tricia Schumacher at 308-487-3622.
A social begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by the dinner and business meeting. Members will hear a year-end report, and results of the recent food collection drive for area food pantries.
Regarding the EPA proposal on WOTUS, Crawford said the EPA has extended the public comment period for the proposal from July 21st to October 20th because of pressure from agricultural groups to extend the period. Many producers said they would be busy working in the fields during the summer.
Comments can be as simple as a postcard to the EPA, and copied to elected officials. All five members of Nebraska’s federal delegation (three congressman and two senators) oppose the rule, and recently held a press conference with the Common Sense Nebraska coalition to voice their concerns, Crawford noted.
“I, among other Farm Bureau and Nebraska Cattlemen members, appreciate that our federal delegation is supportive of production agriculture and they see the overreach, once again, by a bureaucratic agency,” Crawford said.