The president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) took the Environmental Protection Agency on an educational tour of his farm in southern Maryland on Friday.
Chip Bowling hosted nearly a dozen staffers from the EPA as part of a series of meetings between NCGA and the EPA connected to the proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. Bowling was joined by NCGA CEO Chris Novak and Vice President of Public Policy Jon Doggett.
“We wanted to give them a view of what actually happens on the farm,” said Bowling. “Our members have a lot of uncertainty and concerns with the proposed rules. We are working with the EPA to ensure that the final proposal provides clarity and addresses those concerns.”
During the tour, EPA staff were shown areas that could be regulated under the proposal as currently written, including drainage ditches, grass waters that are dry most of the year, and low spots on fields where water pools.
Bowling said it is important to work with the EPA and give farmers a voice during the rule-making process. “We want to have a seat at the table when these rules are being developed,” said Bowling.
EPA staffers described the tour and ensuing conversation as educational and productive, according to Bowling, who used the opportunity to highlight advances in farming operations over the past three decades, and what that has meant for conservation and environmental impact. “Ninety-nine percent of my farm friends do what I do,” said Bowling. “We have no problems with erosion or ditch damage. We’ve become more efficient and are doing more with less.”
EPA is accepting comments on the proposed rule through Friday, November 14. More than 200,000 comments have been submitted to date.