ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, U.S. — In a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the American Soybean Association (ASA) joined more than 70 other food and agriculture stakeholder groups in requesting more time to comment on EPA’s proposed interpretive rule on Waters of the United States.

“This rule has the potential to impact a large majority of the things we do as farmers each day within our operations,” said ASA President and Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser. “These comments aren’t something we can rush through. We have to look at the many different ways the rule could affect the way we operate, and integrate those into our comments. To do that, we need a little more time.”

Citing the complexity of EPA’s draft rule, the groups maintain that comprehensive comments that represent the best interests of soybean farmers and other publics involved will require “deep and substantial review of lengthy and complex documents… and careful consideration and thought into the potentially significant changes to the historical relationship enjoyed between the agricultural community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

The groups also pointed to the need for farmers to discern what the rule would mean for them on the ground level. “The key step in all this is the middle one: farmers and ranchers working out in the field and on their farms to determine what these proposed policies mean,” wrote the groups. 

“Unfortunately, the timing of this proposed rule and the 90-day comment period coincides exactly with the absolutely busiest period in the farm calendar. Our farmer members during this period are preparing soil for planting, planting and replanting seed, applying crop nutrients and crop protection products, and harvesting hay and winter wheat crops. All of this work is taking place this spring and early summer, and that necessarily limits their ability to review and understand the proposal and the Interpretative Rule and how they may apply to them on their farms, and then provide meaningful comments.”