Baise: Water police, part three: EPA's definition of 'tributary'

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If you missed parts one and two of this discussion about EPA Clean Water Act regulations, view EPA's Water Police, Part One: Coming to Your Farm? and Water Police, Part Two: EPA Proposal Won't Help Ag EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, commenting on the new definition of what constitutes a water of the United States says, "To be clear: our proposal does not add to or expand the scope of waters historically protected under the Clean Water Act." Well, as Ronald Reagan would say, let's examine how EPA defines a "tributary." Then consider what Ms. McCarthy is saying. Section F of... View Blog Post »

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Water Police, part two: EPA proposal won't help ag

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If you missed part one of this discussion about EPA Clean Water Act regulations, view EPA's Water Police, Part One: Coming to Your Farm? The Drovers Cattle Network reprinted my comments regarding the EPA and Corps of Engineers' new definition of "Waters of the United States." A reader took umbrage at my reference to "ill-informed politicians" who attacked EPA's proposed land grab of private property. Devil is in the details on new government effort to regulate U.S. waters The reader suggested I too should read EPA's proposed rule "first" before commenting. He set forth exemptions EPA creates for agriculture, ranching... View Blog Post »

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Baise: EPA's water police: Coming to your farm?

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I just returned from Germany and Poland and was startled to discover the regulatory control the European Union exercises over its farmers and agriculture. This should not be a surprise, however, when a farmer has the EU paying one-half the cost of his tractor and/or farm equipment. In eastern Germany, we were also regaled with stories about the old communist government ordering planting on days it was raining. Unfortunately we are headed in the same direction here. The EPA has just released a new definition of "Waters of the United States." Critics are calling this the biggest government land grab... View Blog Post »

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Baise: A ban on genetically engineered crops?

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Despite a quarter century of promises, agricultural biotechnology has yet to provide any concrete advancements towards reducing world hunger, ameliorating global malnutrition, combating…, creating miracle drugs through GE [genetically engineered] plants or animals, or climate change." (WRONG!) On February 25, 2014, this statement was made by the Center for Food Safety, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Beyond Pesticides, and Center for Biological Diversity in a petition filed with the Secretary of Interior that seeks to ban genetically engineered crops from being used on National Wildlife Refuges. These anti-agriculture nongovernmental groups, as usual, do a... View Blog Post »

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Will EPA regulate all water?

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is pushing to control the waters of the United States. And at least one political leader is pushing back. "To let EPA begin to regulate all waters of the United States would have devastating impacts on rural towns, farmers and local governments," says Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho. His proposed legislation, called the Defense of Environment and Property Act of 2013, is an effort to stop EPA from regulating virtually all water bodies in the U.S. He will likely fail. On January 27, I wrote about a term you will see frequently, called... View Blog Post »

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Poultry cage laws create scrambled eggs

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Editor's Note: The following blog looks at a case involving the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), California voters and Missouri Attorny General Chris Koster. California's Proposition 2 was passed in 2008 and required farm animals, including sows and egg-laying hens, to turn around freely, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs. Read more about Proposition 2 here. The HSUS contributed more than $4 million in its campaign to garner support for the propsition. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is standing up for all of agriculture in a lawsuit filed on Feb.... View Blog Post »

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EPA 'connectivity' to your farm and ranch

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Since September, 2013, a number of organizations and writers have been describing a ticking time bomb coming from EPA to be delivered to all landowners. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have sent a draft regulation to the White House which looks like another EPA grab for power over all the surface water and ground water in the U.S. Every environmental group appears to be enthusiastically behind EPA. Apparently EPA proposes to control water runoff in the U.S. Readers need to make their Congressmen aware of EPA's scientific support and the... View Blog Post »

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Pricey farm bill is more about food stamps than farmers

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The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have passed the Farm Bill, and the President is being urged to sign it into law quickly. Conservatives in Washington are outraged at the profligate spending. The Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative think tank, said, "You Won't Believe What's in the $1 Trillion Farm Bill Disaster." Heritage says the Farm Bill is filled with central planning policies, handouts to special interests and wasteful spending and claims the taxpayers, the poor and consumers are the losers. Heritage states the Farm Bill is really a food stamp bill because 80%... View Blog Post »

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Baise: Another bull's-eye on farmland owners

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Watch the government bureaucrats in December of any year. The Government Accountability Office issued a report (CLEAN WATER ACT –Changes Needed if Key EPA Program if to Help Fulfill the Nation's Water Quality Goals) in late December, 2013, which will put another EPA bull's-eye on farmland and ranch operators and owners. GAO says "…more than 25 years after Congress amended it [Clean Water Act]…to institute a program to control nonpoint source pollution, a majority of our nation's waters continue to be impaired." GAO says "Major challenges remain for addressing nonpoint source pollution." (Interpretation: too much runoff from... View Blog Post »

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Baise: OSHA's grain bin gambit: Is it legal?

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On July 16, 2007, Richard E. Fairfax, OSHA's Director, Directorate of Enforcement Programs, wrote to a firm in Baton Rouge, La. The firm had asked if "The Appropriations Act exempts small farming operations from enforcement of all rules, regulations, standards or orders under the Occupational Safety and Health Act." It also asked if a farming operation is exempt from all Occupational Safety and Health Act activities if it employs 10 or fewer individuals. Mr. Fairfax said, "Under OSHA's current appropriations law, OSHA is not allowed to spend any... View Blog Post »

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Gary H. Baise
Gary H. Baise | Gary H. Baise is an Illinois farmer and trial attorney at the law firm Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC, specializing in agricultural and environmental issues in state and federal court. He also serves as outside General Counsel for the U.S. Grains Council, Agricultural Retailers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers and counsel to the American Soybean Association. Baise is actively involved in a number of agricultural associations, including the Farm Foundation. He also formerly served on the USDA's Agricultural Air Quality Task Force. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Illinois University and a Juris Doctor degree from Indiana University. In the Legal Outlook blog, Baise will shed light on legal issues facing agriculture. Additionally, he will include his impressions on what these issues mean to producers. He is a contributor to Farm Futures magazine, where his comments, through the Defending Agriculture column, are initially published.


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