Biden’s EPA Continues to Push WOTUS Red Tape on Farmers, Ranchers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today announced she has cosponsored legislation to combat federal regulatory overreach as the Biden administration continues its efforts to impose Clean Water Act restrictions on crop and rangeland.

Hyde-Smith is an original cosponsor of the Farmers Freedom Act of 2023 (S.3366), which would protect the definition of prior converted cropland (PCC) from the Biden administration’s most recent Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.  U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) authored the legislation, which is supported by the American Farm Bureau.

“Prior converted cropland has been exempted from the WOTUS regulations for decades, but President Biden’s EPA just can’t help itself from overregulation.  Unfortunately, it will be our farmers and ranchers paying the price,” Hyde-Smith said.  “This legislation would shield them from excessive red tape and provide them with greater certainty that they can use their land as they see fit.”

Wetlands converted to cropland before 1985 have remained exempted from WOTUS regulation. Under the Biden administration’s rule, previously-converted cropland could revert to a wetland status if it is unavailable for commodity production.  Specifically, if a section of PCC floods and is unable to produce commodities, it could be subject to regulation under the authority of the Clean Water Act.

S.3366 seeks to allow landowners the freedom to utilize their PCC as is most suitable for their operations without unnecessary red tape by restoring the definition of PCC as outlined in the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) finalized by the Trump administration in 2020. The NWPR clarified the rules governing PCC, protecting impacted land from Clean Water Act regulation as long it was used for agricultural purposes once every five years.

Rounds’ legislation, which has been referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).