News Releases

Date: 6/17/2009

Title: NCBA, PLC Urge Senate to Stop Federal Land Grab, Protect Private Property Rights

WASHINGTON – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) are urging the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee to oppose the so-called “Clean Water Restoration Act,” (CWRA) scheduled for markup tomorrow. This dangerous bill would grant the federal government sweeping new regulatory authority, posing serious concerns about government infringement on private-property rights.

NCBA and PLC sent the following letter to members of the EPW Committee today:

“The Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA), scheduled to be marked-up tomorrow in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, would significantly expand federal jurisdiction over private farms and ranches.  This bill amounts to nothing less than a giant federal land grab and would be disastrous to U.S. agriculture.  On behalf of the men and woman of America’s farming and ranching community, you must vote against this bill.  Anything less is a vote against agriculture. 

“This bill is unnecessary and unjustifiable, and sets a dangerous precedent towards the continuing erosion of our fundamental constitutional rights as American citizens.  No compromise or exemption will cover all of the farms and ranches in the U.S.  To fully protect agriculture, the term “navigable” must remain in the Clean Water Act.   

“Under current law, the federal government has jurisdiction over ‘navigable waters of the United States.’  However, by removing the word ‘navigable’ from the definition, the CWRA would expand federal regulatory control to unprecedented levels - essentially putting stock tanks, drainage ditches, and any puddle or water feature found on family farms and ranches across this country under the regulatory strong-arm of the federal government.  This is an outright infringement on our Constitutional rights as Americans to own and manage property without undue interference from the government.

“Cattlemen appreciate the need to regulate navigable waters and wetlands that have true environmental value.  We value clean water and depend upon it for our livelihoods.  The current Clean Water Act has been tremendously successful.  In fact, it is arguably the most successful environmental law on the books.  Millions of miles of rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands, estuaries, ponds, and other waters are cleaner and functioning appropriately thanks to the strong partnership that exists between the federal and state levels of government which allows states essential flexibility to do their own land- and water- use planning in a way that makes sense.  We cannot allow Congress to take this flexibility away from the states.

“All waters are not the same in terms of their environmental function and value, and they should not be regulated in the same way.  It makes no sense to require a family farmer or rancher to get a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before they can utilize their property or water their cattle.  This is especially true given the fact the federal government is already struggling to handle a backlog of 15,000 to 20,000 existing permit requests.  Considering U.S. cattlemen own and manage approximately 666.4 million acres of the 1.938 billion acres of the contiguous U.S. land mass—considerably more land than any other segment of agriculture and any other industry—in addition to millions more acres used to grow hay, feed grains, and food grains, the CWRA would have sweeping affects on our industry and our nation.

“Today, farmers and ranchers are using fewer natural resources to produce an abundant and affordable supply of safe, nutritious food for our consumers, while working hard to protect the natural resources required to produce that food.  As the world’s population increases require us to produce more and more food on less land, we need policies that protect farming and ranching.  Needlessly imposing additional regulations and financial burdens on an already struggling farm economy makes no sense.

“As a member of this Committee, you will play a key role in deciding the fate of this legislation.  Vote NO on the Clean Water Restoration Act.”

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