EPA Administrator Visits with State Ag Leaders and Producers

Posted on May 9, 2019
WOTUS and other farm-related issues were discussed during stop in Kentucky

GEORGETOWN–Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler paid a visit to Kentucky last month to discuss a number of agriculture-related topics and to hear from farmers and industry representatives.

The roundtable discussion took place at the Scott County location of Meade Tractor with a standing-room-only crowd.

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles hosted the event and said the visit demonstrates that the EPA is listening to the needs of America’s farmers and rural communities.

“Administrator Wheeler is a learner and a listener, and he wants to learn more about agriculture,” he said.

And that, he has done. Wheeler joined American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue last December in Wilson County, Tennessee to discuss the new Waters of the U.S. rule. He also met with ag leaders and officials last August in Louisville during the Kentucky State Fair. 

In fact, Wheeler has been traveling the country, often meeting with farmers to learn of their concerns and to share what the EPA is doing from an agricultural standpoint.

He told the gathering at the Georgetown event he felt the new WOTUS rule will stand up in the court systems and will provide certainty about what waterways fall under the rule and what does not.

“That was our goal when I sat down with my staff from the agency. I said we need to have a regulation on Waters of the United States where any homeowner, any farmer, any home builder can stand on his or her property and be able to tell for themselves whether or not they have federal water on their property without having to hire an outside consultant or attorney,” he said. “The regulation should be clear enough for everybody to understand what is and what is not a federal waterway.”

The new rule does just that defining what is a federal waterway and just as importantly, what is not, added Wheeler.

“Providing that certainty to you all is so important and underpins what we are trying to do at the agency,” he said.

After making remarks, Wheeler took questions from the audience which included Kentucky Farm Bureau Second Vice President Sharon Furches. She said having the EPA Administrator, as well as other high-ranking federal officials come to Kentucky to discuss agricultural issues, is indicative of the strength the state’s agriculture industry possesses. 

“When federal officials are taking note of the work our collective ag industry is doing and the progress we are making concerning a number of issues, it speaks well to the relationships we possess here as an agriculture community,” she said.