The EPA’s recently revised ‘Waters of the U.S.’ rule, or WOTUS for short, is now in effect here in Indiana. The rule has drawn a lot of complaints—especially from one of Indiana’s largest farm owners.
“A lot of Hoosier farmers will have a problem,” says Kip Tom, the CEO of Tom Farms which is based in Kosciusko County in northern Indiana. He also served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture during the Trump administration.
Indiana farmers can be fined or threatened with jail time if the EPA or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finds that they are in violation of the WOTUS rule, which was first established to regulate ‘navigable bodies of water’, but has since been extended to include ditches, drainages and low spots on farmlands and pastures.
“My thought on the rule is that it needs to go away,” says Tom. “Like we did in the Trump Administration, we had seen it put into a place where wasn’t restricting property rights and it wasn’t going to restrict our ability to produce crops. Let’s face it—we have an administration right now that has a different objective than what’s needed for us to be effective in feeding a growing world.”
Tom applauds several Indiana lawmakers in Washington who have spoken out against the EPA’s revised WOTUS rule.
“We need to get involved in this discussion. I know our Senators—Senator Mike Braun and Senator Todd Young—are standing up against it and I applaud their efforts, but they need to hear from constituents across the state of Indiana to make sure that we shut down WOTUS,” says Tom.
He strongly encourages Indiana farmers to engage with their lawmakers in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C. about the issues impacting their farm operations, including WOTUS.
“I think often times we rely on our Departments of Agriculture and our commodity organizations to be our sole voice to those who lead our country in Washington, D.C. or in our state houses,” says Tom. “It’s time for farmers to get directly involved. They don’t have to be a part of an organization to write their senator or to write their congressman. Pick up the phone and give them a call and get involved.”
“I think we do many things good in producing crops or livestock, but at the end of the day, we need to get involved to make sure we protect our ability to do what we do to grow the U.S. economy and to feed a world,” says Tom.
The ultimate fate of WOTUS may lie with the U.S. Supreme Court once they hand down their decision in the Sackett v. EPA case. That decision is expected before the end of the Supreme Court’s current term, which will likely be in late June or early July.