WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp stressed the need for federal policies that provide certainty to North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers.
At today’s hearing, Heitkamp continued her efforts to push back on the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule that includes murky definitions of regulated waters. Specifically, the proposed rule’s ambiguous regulations include potentially harmful provisions such as subjecting the prairie pothole region to case-by-case determinations as “other waters,” and defining ordinary high water marks and inclusions of some wetlands and ditches as tributaries. Heitkamp, a strong advocate for withdrawing the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule, called for workable solutions that provide clarity and rebuild trust between North Dakota farmers and ranchers, and the federal government.
“North Dakota is experiencing a wet cycle – which puts our state in a unique position because farmers are already burdened by difficulties managing wetlands. Such conditions reinforce how the proposed rule could seriously affect North Dakota landowners, as I’ve heard from farmers across North Dakota about how the rule could create unworkable and unnecessary obstacles,” said Heitkamp. “This is a complicated issue, and we have to get it right. Farmers in North Dakota already have enough uncertainty and issues when it comes to wetlands and water on their farms and this rule will only add to those challenges. At today’s Senate Agriculture Committee hearing, it was clear that the Waters of the U.S. rule needs to be redone with additional clarifications so it works for our farmers and ranchers, and I’ll continue to press to make that happen.”
In November 2014, Heitkamp sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers asking them to withdraw the rule because of the uncertainty it provides not only just to North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers, but many other industries. She has been working tirelessly to make sure the sheer amount of water and wetlands in North Dakota is taken into account and to stress the need for clarification when it comes to USDA wetland determinations and conservation compliance requirements. Heitkamp has also met with groups across North Dakota about the lack of trust and uncertainty created by the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule, and will continue to fight to make sure their voices are heard.