Costa Introduces Bill to Reduce Regulatory Burdens on Agriculture

Washington, DC-Rep. Jim Costa joined Rep. Robert Hurt (R-VA) to introduce the Preserving Rural Resources Act of 2013 that would reduce regulations placed on ranchers and growers. The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers have reinterpreted portions of the Clean Water Act to require farmers to go through a burdensome and costly permitting process in order to complete routine projects on their land such as building farm ponds, irrigation ditches, and farm roads. Costa and Hurt’s legislation would restore the exemption to the permitting process for routine agricultural activities.

“Our farmers work every day to conserve the land that provides them with their livelihood,” said Costa. “The EPA’s permitting process was never intended for routine agriculture activities and they have overreached in an effort to expand their regulatory footprint. These barriers make it cost and time prohibitive for farmers to take necessary actions within their own business. Our bill restores the balance and puts producers back in control.”

Congressman Robert Hurt (VA-05) added, “The Preserving Rural Resources Act will provide much-needed regulatory relief to our agricultural community at a time when unreasonable federal regulations stand as a primary roadblock to their success. I thank Congressman Costa for his leadership on this issue and look forward to working with him to enact commonsense reforms like the Preserving Rural Resources Act to encourage economic growth and get this country back to work.”

EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have asserted their authority to regulate agricultural activities is based in the Clean Water Act. However, Congress made a decision in 1977 to amend the Clean Water Act to exempt normal activities necessary to prepare and maintain land for agricultural production from obtaining Clean Water Act permits.