New WOTUS Rule Could Push Input Costs Even Higher

Reaction across American agriculture to the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Waters of the U.S. Rule has not been positive for a number of reasons. Chief among them, it could push input costs even higher. Reagan Giesenschlag, manager of government affairs with the Fertilizer Institute, says more regulation always means higher costs.

“I don’t think it’ll necessarily impact farmers’ access to inputs, but it could add to the backside costs of producing that if somebody is trying to mine materials. It’s all about the targeting and the time and the cost to get those permits.”

Giesenschlag says when the EPA proposed a rule several months back, it was much more extreme than the one they eventually landed on. However, the agency left a lot of “wiggle room” in implementing the rule that she believes will make things more challenging for the fertilizer industry.

“Sometimes, when we have to mine the necessary materials to make potash or phosphorus, we have to temporarily disturb wetlands or other, you know, aquatic features to extract those materials to produce the fertilizer. So that’s kind of where the fertilizer industry and WOTUS cross, and it will impact it in that way. Maybe some of these fertilizer expansion projects that USDA had the grant program for could potentially delay those depending on who gets awarded. There are things like that.”

Farm Bureau Deputy General Counsel Travis Cushman expressed his disappointment in the EPA’s ruling at their convention this week, saying the current case before the Supreme Court regarding WOTUS is a lawsuit against the previous version of the rule, so don’t expect a Supreme Court decision on that to end the WOTUS debate once and for all.

“So, the current case is not on this new rule, so I would believe you would probably need to have a new challenge to that rule. And that’s why they should not of put this out when they did.”

Cushman says the one thing for certain for farmers regarding the latest Waters of the U.S. final rule: more uncertainty.

Source: NAFB News Service