Chesapeake water quality ruling appealed by agriculture groups
Ruling has harmful implications that go beyond water quality, organizations say
Some agriculture trade groups are appealing a September 13 federal court decision which upheld the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Chesapeake Bay. The ruling was initially challenged in 2011, when ag organizations attempted to block federal and state limits designed to improve the health of the bay through tighter regulations on agricultural treatment, but U.S. District Court Judge Sylvia Rambo ruled that the EPA was within its authority to set and enforce standards to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment that drain from rivers into the bay.
National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Martin Barbre on October 8 released the following statement after filing a notice to appeal the ruling: "NCGA feels it is in the best interest of farmers to appeal the district court's decision which upheld the TMDL for the Chesapeake Bay. Our organization understands and supports the need to protect water quality, but we don't support a wrongfully decided case when it has a profoundly negative impact on agricultural production and innovation.
"We continue to believe the policies and science behind Chesapeake Bay TMDL are wrong, and that it goes beyond the scope of Clean Water Act authority. We hope the Third Circuit Court of Appeals will reconsider these arguments and ultimately provide state and local jurisdiction more flexibility to work with agriculture in meeting water quality goals."
Bob Stallman, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) president, added that the September ruling has dangerous implications for farmers and other who live not only in the Chesapeake Bay area, but also nationwide.
"This case isn't about whether or not to protect the Chesapeake Bay - we all share that goal," said Stallman. "This case is about whether EPA can dictate where farming will be allowed, where homes can be built, and where businesses can be established. By taking over decisions like that, EPA has turned the whole concept of cooperative federalism out the barn door."
The American Farm Bureau Federation filed the initial suit in 2011. They were joined at the time by the NCCA, National Chicken Council, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, National Turkey Federation, the Fertilizer Institute and the National Pork Producers Council. Gwen Venable, vice president of communications for the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, said her organization is participating in the appeal on behalf of the poultry industry.