Section 5 - Natural Resources

Section 5 - Natural Resources

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION 

501 / Aboveground Fuel Storage Tanks

1.             We believe state rules for aboveground fuel storage tanks should not be more restrictive than federal rules.

2.         We support clearly defined requirements for on-farm, aboveground fueling facilities. Farmers should be assured of regulatory certainty before investing in corrective measures.

3.         We urge the federal agencies to ease restrictions on farm fuel storage. Dikes should not be required around smaller tanks.

4.         We support the following revisions to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules regarding aboveground fuel storage tanks:

4.1.      Exempting farm fuel (diesel and gasoline) tanks from EPA mandates; 

4.2.      Placing no limit on the number of aboveground fuel storage tanks allowed per farm;

4.3.      Allowing double-wall tanks in place of diking around tanks; and

4.4.      Allowing farmers, regardless of their on-farm fuel storage capacity, to complete and self-certify a spill control plan.

5.         We oppose:

5.1.      Mandatory regulations or fees with the registration or monitoring of aboveground fuel storage tanks for farm use; and

5.2.      The inclusion of any materials beyond petroleum products into the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure regulations.

502 / Clean Air

1.             A balanced and science-based implementation of the Clean Air Act (CAA) is of the utmost concern to farmers and ranchers. 

2.         We support the following principles:

2.1.      Sound Science - To protect public health, all CAA rules and incentive-based programs must be based on peer-reviewed, science-based, reliable and accurate information;

2.2.      Transparency - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should establish and maintain a deliberate, consistent and transparent decision-making process to inform the public, including farmers, of any criteria used to regulate air emissions;

2.3.      Workability - The CAA must be administered in a practical and realistic way to establish workable and reasonable rules and incentive-based programs. EPA should always consider incentive-based programs, before regulation, to achieve emission reduction. Compliance costs associated with meeting any imposed standards should be the responsibility of the federal government;

2.4.      Practicability - We will work with industry groups and the appropriate agencies to ensure common sense implementation and economic achievability of any new rule and incentive-based programs;

2.5.      Cost Benefit Analysis/Affordability - Benefits should significantly exceed the cost of any regulation or program and affordability should be a major consideration; and

2.6.      Congressional Oversight - Congress should review the effects of CAA on agricultural operations and ensure workable and reasonable CAA rules and programs.

3.         We support:

3.1.      Landowners and/or farmers not being held responsible for pollution that crosses international borders;

3.2.      Establishing clear, transparent and reasonable definitions for exceptional events as they relate to exceedances of particulate matter (PM) standards;

3.3.      Funding for agriculture air quality research to establish accurate agricultural emission baselines;

3.4.      A process by which the regulated community or impacted state could appeal the decision of EPA on compliance determinations such as exceptional events, best available control measures (BACM) and best available retrofit technology (BART);

3.5.      Seeking the direction and guidance of the USDA Task Force on Agricultural Air Quality and its role in reviewing and making recommendations to the secretary of agriculture on issues and proposed policies targeting agricultural air quality;

3.6.      Providing incentives to industries seeking to become more energy efficient or to reduce emissions of identifiable atmospheric pollution and the means of preventing it;

3.7.      Providing incentives to individuals seeking to reforest fragile lands that are currently in agricultural production;

3.8.      Exempting air conditioned farm equipment from the 1990 amendments to the CAA which mandate refrigerant recycling;

3.9.      Continuing the use of prescribed or controlled burn programs;

3.10.    Excluding particulate matter from agricultural sources from the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) because there is no conclusive scientific evidence indicating that particulate matter from farm and ranch operations adversely affects public health;

3.11.    Agriculture's exemption regarding particulate size in EPA's ambient air quality standards; 

3.12.    Exempting on-farm biogas-fueled engines from federal New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) stack testing requirements;

3.13.    Amending the CAA to hold states harmless for emission levels resulting from emergency waivers granted by EPA; and

3.14.    Requirements for agricultural and construction equipment to be re-established at Tier 3 levels.

4.         We oppose:

4.1.      Mandatory air quality standards for ozone and particulate matter on farms, ranches and agricultural businesses;

4.2.      Air permits for agricultural operations that are not science based;

4.3.      Any efforts by the EPA to implement permitting fees and/or protocol or take regulatory action regarding greenhouse gas emissions for production agriculture;

4.4.      The regulation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) as a source category under the CAA;

4.5.      Air quality regulations on existing power generation facilities that require Selective Catalytic Reduction Systems (SCRS) and bag-house equipment to comply with air quality and view-shed requirements; and

4.6.      Further restriction and involvement of the EPA on irrigation engines.

503 / Climate Change

1.             Market-based incentives, such as pollutant credit trading, are preferable to government mandates.

2.         We support:

2.1.      A voluntary market-based carbon credit trading system that is not detrimental to other agricultural producers;

2.2.      Compensation to farmers for planting crops or adopting farming practices that keep carbon in the soil or plant material;

2.3.      Alternative energy sources, which will minimize atmospheric pollution;

2.4.      Incentives to industries seeking to become more energy efficient or to reduce emissions of identifiable atmospheric pollution and the means of preventing it;

2.5.      Market-based solutions, rather than federal or state emission limits, being used to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from any sources;

2.6.      EPA's re-evaluation of burdensome emission control rules for farming practices, farm equipment, cotton gins, grain handling facilities, etc.; 

2.7.      The inclusion of the agricultural community as a full partner in the development of any policy or legislation; and

2.8.      Research and development to better assist farmers in handling weather events and better adapting to weather conditions.

3.         We oppose:

3.1.      Climate change legislation that establishes mandatory cap-and-trade provisions;

3.2.      Climate change legislation that is not fair, affordable or achievable;

3.3.      Any law or regulation requiring reporting of any GHG emissions by an agriculture entity;

3.4.      Any climate change legislation that would make America less competitive in the global marketplace and put undue costs on American agriculture, business and consumers;

3.5.      Any climate change legislation until other countries meet or exceed U.S. requirements;

3.6.      Mandatory restrictions to achieve reduced agricultural greenhouse gas emissions;

3.7.      Any regulation of GHG by EPA;

3.8.      Any attempt to regulate methane emissions from livestock under the Clean Air Act or any other legislative vehicle;

3.9.      The imposition of standards on farm and ranch equipment and other non-highway use machinery;

3.10.    Inclusion of the carbon impacts resulting from indirect land use changes in other countries in the carbon life cycle analysis of biofuels; and

3.11.    Taxes on carbon uses or emissions.

504 / Environmental Protection and Regulations

1.             Environmental regulations, air quality standards, water standards, noise standards and visual standards should recognize the essential nature of efficient utilization of organic matter, pesticides and fertilizers as a basic and natural part of agricultural production.

2.         Government agencies should not have the authority to impose penalties on landowners without first identifying the problem and giving the landowner an opportunity to correct the problem. If there is a difference of opinion concerning the extent of the problem a reasonable and cost effective appeal process of the agencies decision should be available to the landowner. Fines that are imposed should not go into the U.S. Treasury, but be used to address problems found on the site. We believe that businesses, industries and farmers who have to expend sums of money to implement or prove they are meeting environmental regulations should be reimbursed for their expenditure.

3.         Present and past landowners and operators should not be held liable for the cost of clean-up or damages from dipping vat sites which were established under a federally mandated program for tick eradication.

4.         Pollution problems, occurring where previously accepted guidelines and regulations have been complied with, should be remedied at public expense.

5.         Neither landowners, producers nor their lenders shall be held liable for the cost of environmental cleanups caused by prior actions and over which the producer, landowner or lender had no management oversight or control of decision-making.

6.         Towns that meet the arid exemption should be exempt from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations concerning pit liners, leachate collection and treatment, and groundwater monitoring wells in order to maintain landfills at a feasible cost.

7.         We support:

7.1.      The confidentiality of individual and business information including inspection and agency records;

7.2.      Public information about permit details and permit holders only being available for review at an agency's physical office and should have traceability of inquiry;

7.3.      Individual(s), organizations, or units of government that file a petition for an Environmental Impact Statement, being responsible for additional costs incurred by the process. Normal agricultural practices, such as ditching, tiling and controlled burning should be exempt from environmental regulations;

7.4.      Faster response time on all environmental reviews;

7.5.      The deletion of citizen lawsuits from environmental statutes;

7.6.      Adequate funding to aid in the construction of agricultural pollution control devices and implementation of agricultural practices to meet mandated standards;

7.7.      Legislation to exempt property owners from financial responsibility for pollution that resulted from previously-accepted farming practices;

7.8.      Amending the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act, Comprehensive Environmental Recovery, Compensation and Liability Act, and Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act to exclude agricultural operations. The requirements of these laws are too stringent and inappropriate for farming operations;

7.9.      The removal of setbacks on chemical application in conjunction with tile inlet structures unless proven by scientific data;

7.10.    Incentive-based programs that look for solutions to hazardous waste and pollution problems for agriculture that will replace the command-and-control regulatory programs currently in effect;

7.11.    Regulatory standards being set at safe tolerance levels and not at detection levels, which are below those that may pose a threat to human health and/or environmental degradation;

7.12.    The repeal of the federal law and tax on Freon R12;

7.13.    The use of halon in fire extinguishers being permitted until a suitable substitute becomes available;

7.14.    Spent mushroom compost being classified by all federal agencies as an agricultural waste byproduct;

7.15.    Federal environmental regulations being relaxed for those involved in cleanup from floods and other disasters;

7.16.    An agricultural exemption from regional long-term bans on outdoor burning;

7.17.    A complete overhaul and re-examination of the rules and regulations of EPA, Occupational Safety and Health Protection Agency, and other protective and regulatory agencies, with the goals of reducing, combining, and streamlining these agencies;

7.18.    State and local governments affected by the EPA Border 21 Program to opt out of the project;

7.19.    Reduced funding for EPA;

7.20.    Prior to adopting a rule or regulation which would restrict or eliminate any normally used agricultural practice, EPA should identify practical, economically feasible alternative solutions to the perceived problem;

7.21.    Legislation that halts EPA-ordered environmental river dredging unless the EPA incorporates suitable protections to agriculture in the environmental dredging plan;

7.22.    Holding the Army Corp of Engineers accountable for projects that contribute nutrients to surface water;

7.23.    Federal regulations affecting production agriculture being based on sound science and cost-benefit analysis. The EPA must have sound scientific data to back up any claims or rulings the agency makes;

7.24.    The normal review process of agricultural chemicals by EPA. Product reviews should not deviate without proper cause;

7.25.    Continued research on reuse of water; conversion of saline waters; air and water pollution; water and soil conservation; recharging of groundwater basins; drainage; forestry management and utilization; restoration of strip-mined areas; weather forecasting and modification; treatment of domestic, industrial and animal wastes; coal desulfurization; and other natural resource problems within the framework of federal-state-private cooperation;

7.26.    More effective coordination among the agencies engaged in natural resources research to provide maximum coverage of the subject and to eliminate duplication and waste;

7.27.    EPA and other executive branch entities providing proper notice that surveillance is occurring on private property regardless of the method used. Violations should be based on scientific evidence, not data models; and

7.28.    Protocol for any federal agency receiving an environmental complaint against an agricultural operation include:

7.28.1. An initial contact be made with the operator explaining the nature of the complaint;

7.28.2. An appointment be scheduled 48 hours before entering the premises to address any bio-security concerns;

7.28.3. The party or parties initiating the complaint become part of the public record;

7.28.4. Receipt of the report by the operator and government agency documenting the complaint; and

7.28.5. The time frame for the initial investigative visit be limited to a maximum of two hours.

8.         We oppose:

8.1.      Criminalization under environmental law. Any government agency should be subject to the same restrictions as imposed under common law, wherein a defendant can be convicted of a crime only upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted with specific intent to violate the law. Environmental cases should be tried in the area where they occur;

8.2.      Federal agencies filing for environmental assessments on an individual's property without first informing the individual that it is being done and for what purpose;

8.3.      Insurance requirements imposed by EPA on plants treating and processing agricultural, horticultural and forestry products that are in excess of coverage available on the insurance market at a reasonable premium;

8.4.      The classification of milk or any individual constituent of animal waste, livestock manure, poultry litter, or commercial fertilizer as a solid waste or hazardous substance;

8.5.      Any individual constituent of animal waste and commercial fertilizer being labeled a hazardous substance;

8.6.      EPA using consent agreements to subject producers to liability for violating a retroactively applied standard;

8.7.      EPA treating Native American tribes as states to regulate air, land and water and the application of crop protection chemicals within the boundaries of historical Native American reservations or on other lands and properties owned in fee considered “Indian Country” by the federal government;

8.8.      Regulations promulgated under the EPA Risk Management Program that requires the development of comprehensive prevention and emergency response programs for propane storage. We believe that proposed regulations provide no additional safeguards and that existing federal, state and local regulations adequately meet public safety goals;

8.9.      All federal ecosystem management;

8.10.    EPA as a cabinet-level position;

8.11.    EPA flyovers;

8.12.    Further EPA regulation of pesticide shuttle tanks;

8.13.    Federal nutrient standards; and

8.14.    The use of environmental externalities which add cost to any goods or services.

505 / Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Management

1.             Federal laws require states and territories to develop statewide or regional hazardous waste management programs.

2.         We support:

2.1.      A hold being placed upon activities by multistate low-level nuclear waste compacts until the federal government makes a final determination as to the number of low-level waste sites needed nationally;

2.2.      Working with the appropriate state or regional entities to assure agricultural interests are given adequate consideration and to assist in public education activities;

2.3.      Sufficient sites being designated to accommodate waste;

2.4.      Research and development for alternate methods to handle hazardous waste;

2.5.      Producers of hazardous waste being responsible for its safe transport and disposal within the limits governed by county, state and federal regulations;

2.6.      The Department of Energy following the procedures of the 1982 Nuclear Waste Repository Act based on scientific fact;

2.7.      Legislation that would prevent nuclear and toxic waste dumps from being placed on or beneath productive agricultural land and in areas with large underground water reservoirs and ocean and coastal waters;

2.8.      Any entity operating a facility that processes, manufactures, stores, or disposes of hazardous, toxic, nuclear, or any other material that may pose an adverse impact on the economic well-being of agriculture, to be required to compensate for any losses that may occur;

2.9.      The denial of permits to chemical waste companies in floodplain areas;

2.10.    Further scientific, economic, environmental and agricultural market impact studies of a high-level nuclear waste repository; and

2.11.    The recycling of used nuclear fuel rods; thereby, reducing the need for more storage casks as long as the process is consistent with the protection of land and water.

506 / Waste Disposal and Recycling

1.             We support:

1.1.      Per capita generation of garbage being reduced and a combination of source reduction, source separation, recycling, resource recovery, composting and incineration be instituted, together with financial incentives, for preferred long-term disposal methods;

1.2.      Research into laser gasification for the mining of landfills and disposal of garbage;

1.3.      Establishing reasonable standards for emissions by incinerators burning nontoxic municipal waste. Current stringent requirements are making incineration cost-prohibitive, resulting in more landfills being located on prime agricultural land. Current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations place unrealistic guidelines on landfill use. They give no regard to feasibility or to providing any remedy for meeting the actual needs of waste disposal;

1.4.      A moratorium on the new landfill regulations until a workable waste disposal plan is developed and adequate funding is made available;

1.5.      Agricultural operations which have legally disposed of materials being exempted from liability provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Regulatory Cleanup and Liability Act;

1.6.      Repealing the cradle to grave rule for environmental liability for products or substances not to include real estate. When a product or substance changes hands, the environmental liability of the disposal of that product or substance should transfer to the new owner or responsible party of the product;

1.7.      Government agencies responsible for approving land application systems allowing private agriculture to utilize municipal waste water and sludge;

1.8.      EPA and USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service utilizing proven scientific practices when developing policies concerning waste management;

1.9.      Contracts governing the use of farmland for disposal of such wastes that:

1.9.1.   Permit voluntary participation by agriculture in a private enterprise system;

1.9.2.   Provide flexibility in amount and timing of application of the wastes according to agricultural needs;

1.9.3.   Provide indemnity payments for unsalable crops due to Food and Drug Administration regulations or crop losses caused by components in the wastes;

1.9.4.   Provide indemnity for land should it be contaminated because of components in the wastes;

1.9.5.   Provide economic incentives for new or improved techniques for handling waste water and sludge; and

1.9.6.   Provide farmers with an analysis of nutrients, heavy metals and trace elements of biosolids applied to fields;

1.10.    Government agencies must utilize proven current scientific information when developing policies concerning application of sludge. The responsibility of this being required to rest with the waste handling authorities;

1.11.    Each state having the right to require that all municipal biosolid applications be tracked using GPS technology and be reported electronically;

1.12.    Pathogen certification for sludge imported from out of state being supplemented with periodic in-state lab tests, with results transmitted simultaneously to the applicator, the farmer and the government;

1.13.    Any beverage sold and not required to be consumed on the premises where sold, being in degradable or recyclable containers or in containers for which a substantial refund is offered for return;

1.14.    Efforts by individual states to provide incentives for recycling of beverage containers and existing laws pertaining to littering being enforced with greater vigor;

1.15.    Recycling where economically feasible and efforts to expand the market for recycled products;

1.16.    Increasing the biodegradable standard for containers; and

1.17.    Wider use of biodegradable bags and packaging to reduce litter and landfill volume.

FEDERAL LANDS 

510 / General Management

1.             With regard to general management policies, we support:

1.1.      The multiple-use concept of federal lands, recognizing that definable land areas have dominant-use capability, which should be recognized within the concept of multiple use without the total exclusion of other uses;

1.2.      Requiring multiple-use language that includes and protects historical use and resource harvesting practices in all federal and state land use plans, roadless area documents and statutes;

1.3.      A multiple-use definition that includes and protects historical use and resource-harvesting practices;

1.4.      The development of mineral and energy resources on federal lands by private enterprises;

1.5.      Farmers having the option of using all federally approved seeds on all federally controlled lands; 

1.6.      Federal legislation to remove the management of the National Grasslands from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and turn it over to the grazing association boards. Any direct permits shall either be put into grazing associations or be managed by the state in which the lands lie;

1.7.      Federal agencies utilizing natural resources (such as timber) prior to any prescribed burning;

1.8.      Good watershed development for the benefit of mankind including increasing the quantity and quality of flows;

1.9.      Well-managed lands that have adequate access with roads, even roadless areas, to address fire control, disease and insect control, pest and predator control, and other activities;

1.10.    The U.S. Forest Service allowing water impoundment projects to be built on federal lands;

1.11.    Only lands which do not, or have not had roads should be considered roadless by public land management agencies. The road does not have to be maintained; it just has to have existed for some use in the past or the present. Roadless areas should not be managed as wilderness areas. Access for land management should be allowed even in roadless areas;

1.12.    Reopening any roadless area (including roads and trails) which have been closed to the public and to multiple use;

1.13.    True management decisions that work to develop and keep healthy populations of representative timber species. We support management practices that prevent the following:

1.13.1. The loss of multiple uses;

1.13.2. The loss of quantity and quality watersheds, mudslides, and erosion;

1.13.3. The introduction of undesirable weeds;

1.13.4. The tremendous losses of timber due to fire, diseases and insects (as well as other pests); and

1.13.5. The tremendous losses of private property and possible loss of life;

1.14.    Equality of statehood for the federal land states;

1.15.    A general policy that would minimize agency regulations and maximize management accountability for all users of federal lands;

1.16.    Retention and strengthening of the principles of the Desert Entry Act and the Carey Act to provide for the disposal of federal lands;

1.17.    Agricultural input in land management initiatives such as Coordinated Resource Management;

1.18.    The federal government honoring the state enabling act and releasing public lands. The revenue generated from the sales of public lands should be used to reduce the national debt, fund education and transportation infrastructure;

1.19.    Legislation to require the federal government to manage its lands so that no harm is done to adjoining lands, crops and animals;

1.20.    Legislation to force federal land management agencies to be more responsive to neighboring landowners with regard to road rights-of-way, easements, property lines, road closures, fires, wildlife and environmental issues;

1.21.    The disposal of deer and elk, due to chronic wasting disease on federal land, being the responsibility of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS);

1.22.    The federal government funding and acting in cooperation with state and local governments to control fire, noxious weeds, pests and predators on federal lands, including wilderness areas, according to individual state guidelines;

1.23.    Payments in lieu of taxes equal to 100 percent of the administration of local government;

1.24.    Legislation to require that each state receive 90 percent of the mineral royalties from federal lands within the state and adjoining federal tidelands or as covered by the Land Conservation Act;

1.25.    Retaining the Alaska Lands Act and not allowing these lands to become sovereign lands;

1.26.    The combining of isolated tracts of USFS and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands and appropriate offices where feasible to eliminate duplicate management and to reduce costs;

1.27.    The protection and enhancement of all federal land resources as a sound management goal, until such lands are transferred to the states or into private ownership;

1.28.    The use of motorized vehicles, including snowmobiles and four-wheelers, in emergency search and rescue operations;

1.29.    Efforts to educate the public about the importance of multiple use activities on federal lands;

1.30.    The repeal of the Land and Water Conservation Act (LWCA). In the interim, we believe the funds allocated by the LWCA should be used to better manage existing federal lands;

1.31.    Legislation and rulings that preserve and facilitate the continued use and access of pack and saddle stock animals on public lands, including wilderness areas, national monuments, and other specifically designated areas;

1.32.    Access across federal lands to private property where access is not otherwise available;

1.33.    Participation of federal agencies with private landowners in building and maintaining line fences between federal land and adjacent land. Federal land management agencies should also conform to state fencing laws;

1.34.    Federal land agencies making available to the public a map of specific roads for recreational use;

1.35.    Local management of federal lands where this management will enhance cultural, agricultural, economic and environmental concerns at the county level;

1.36.    Enabling private entities to maintain and repair existing facilities on national or government owned property by the most economical method;

1.37.    A definition of federal land rights-of-way as "any road, trail, access or way upon which construction has been carried out to the standard in which public rights-of-way were built within historical context”;

1.38.    All roads on federal or state lands being open to public travel unless receiving a public hearing for closure. Public lands agencies should not utilize a "closed unless posted open" policy when proposing forest management plans, range management plans, environmental impact statements or environmental assessments;

1.39.    Access to federal lands using RS2477 roads. We support allowing county commissioners the ability to determine the validity of a RS2477 claim, the right to move a RS2477 when it occurs on private land and the ability to temporarily close a RS2477 for resource reasons. Counties should be allowed to maintain RS2477 roads on federal lands within their county boundaries;

1.40.    Maintaining the ability of business operators to access property leased from the federal government, including during a government shutdown, when tending crops or livestock;

1.41.    The retention and maintenance of existing roads and new road construction as needed to implement the Healthy Forest Initiative;

1.42.    The hiring of additional personnel in land management agencies charged with implementing multiple use goals. Any personnel, new or transferred from another department, division, or agency in federal land agency, charged with multiple use goals should have training and education in range management, mining or forest management to carry out this multiple use mission;

1.43.    Rehabilitation through reforestation on state and federal forest lands following wildfire damage or natural disaster;

1.44.    Permittees having motorized access for management of their permit;

1.45.    Funding to local school districts and rural counties from the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000;

1.46.    Federal funding for search and rescue on federal lands;

1.47.    Healthy Forest Initiative;

1.48.    Reinstating Forest Reserve Funding to a level established by SRSCA; 

1.49.    A cash bond being provided by the plaintiff equal to the full cash value of the permit when lawsuits are filed against a permittee and/or the managing land agency. This bond would reimburse lessees for loss of production and legal costs associated with legal actions pertaining to their federal land leases; and

1.50.    All agencies that manage public lands adopting strict ordinances and regulations, which may require a cash or performance bond for large group gatherings to protect public and adjoining private lands, the managing agency, local government and local public service districts;

1.50.1. Requiring BLM, USFS, USFWS, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and other federal agencies to coordinate and cooperate in a meaningful way with states, counties and other local governments in making land management plans and decisions as Congress required;

1.50.2. Providing assistance to states, counties and local governments in coordination and cooperating agency status; and

1.50.3. Ensuring that local users of natural resources have a strong voice in land management and that decisions are made which benefit the local users of natural resources.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      Any diversion of funds away from schools and rural counties and into federally administered programs;

2.2.      The practice of removing recently acquired tribal trust land from the property tax rolls. If it is to be removed, we request the federal government compensate the local units of government for the tax loss;

2.3.      Federal agencies requiring a complete archeological and paleontological survey to be made before any activity, regardless of size;

2.4.      Restricting access to logging roads by four wheelers (OHV) in recreational areas in national park lands and national forest lands;

2.5.      The USFS and the BLM restricting the use of proven beneficial non-native grass, forb and browse species in the re-vegetation, restoration and rehabilitation of these lands. Species both native and non-native, used for these purposes should be those that will be the most effective and be readily available;

2.6.      Planting of noxious weeds;

2.7.      BLM and USFS fencing standards that are impractical for stockmen;

2.8.      The provision of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 which granted police powers to the BLM, and any BLM attempt to exercise such powers;

2.9.      Further introduction of buffalo onto federal land. Federal land management agencies should acknowledge the adjudication of available feed and consider range conditions in granting permission to state and federal departments of wildlife for introductions or augmentations of wildlife species on federal lands;

2.10.    Designating large tracts of land as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). ACECs should be small in size, allow for continued grazing and consistent with the county master plan;

2.11.    Provisions in current law that authorize the secretary of agriculture and the secretary of the interior to enter into agreements or contracts with tribes, which would allow tribes to manage federal forest or rangelands;

2.12.    Public lands agencies requiring relinquishment of existing water rights as a condition of access for maintenance and repair of water works; and

2.13.    Funding any program which results in the purchase or management of additional land by the federal government.

511 / Livestock Grazing

1.             Public benefits provided by science-based grazing management include thriving, sustainable rangelands; quality watersheds; productive wildlife habitat; viable rural economies; reduction of wildfire hazards; and tax base support for critical public services.

2.         We support:

2.1.      The following principles for federal agencies when making decisions regarding the administration of grazing permits:

2.1.1.   Cooperate in a timely manner with permittees;

2.1.2.   Use proven and accepted scientific analysis methods;

2.1.3.   Use prior and concurrent consultations with credible third parties;

2.1.4.   Evaluate and make decisions on an allotment-by-allotment basis; and

2.1.5.   Authorize the continued use of off-highway vehicle travel by federal land grazers as necessary to comply with the terms and conditions of their permits;

2.2.      The legislatively created and judicially determined "grazing preference" instead of the more uncertain "permitted use" concept;

2.3.      Range improvements paid for by the permittee becoming the property of the permittee;

2.4.      A requirement that applicants must own livestock in order to be able to obtain federal grazing permits;

2.5.      Legislation which would change all federal grazing permit renewals from a 10-year period to a 20-year period;

2.6.      An equitable grazing fee which:

2.6.1.   Recognizes the added costs associated with grazing on federal lands and reconciles the costs between federal and private grazing fees;

2.6.2.   Is based on good scientific data; and

2.6.3.   Provides for the economic and social stability of the industry and western rural communities;

2.7.      The use of monies received from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) grazing fees for rangeland improvement projects as specified by the Taylor Grazing Act and Federal Land Policy Management Act. Use of grazing fee funds for fire rehabilitation projects should be restricted to those lands that have been and will continue to be grazed by domestic livestock;

2.8.      A permittee's right to water developed by the lessee on federal lands in accordance with state water law;

2.9.      Development of a local appeals process;

2.10.    A definition that confines "affected interest" to persons directly affected either economically or personally to the federal land of a specific area;

2.11.    Alteration of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to make compliance cost-effective, recognizing the appropriate role of the permittee in the public involvement process and creating standards that are attainable;

2.12.    Ensuring that private property owners maintaining all rights of private property including the right to determine who shall and shall not have access across private property. Federal agencies should be prohibited from diminishing these rights as a condition of allowing private individuals the use of federal lands;

2.13.    Long-term contracts stipulating terms and conditions of grazing use;

2.14.    Adequate incentives for optimum investment in private and federal lands range improvement;

2.15.    Conditions relative to multiple use;

2.16.    Severance damages;

2.17.    Trespass regulations;

2.18.    A requirement that the permittee be granted the increased grazing capacity which accrues from improved range management;

2.19.    Recognition that grazing rights defined by animal unit months (AUM) are bought and sold as personal property and, therefore, should be considered as such by all government agencies;

2.20.    Legislation granting “grazing rights” not “grazing privileges” on land managed by the federal government that has historically been utilized for grazing purposes;

2.21.    Adding language to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) to protect National Grassland permittees due process protections to the same degree enjoyed and afforded to BLM and National Forest land permittees;

2.22.    Credits for non-fee costs incurred for rangeland improvements and wildlife enhancement practices adopted and implemented by the permittee;

2.23.    A broad-based public relations effort to improve the federal image of public land grazing;

2.24.    Use of annual monitoring programs as sufficient to make any necessary modifications to a permit with a minimum of three years of monitoring being required before making permit changes. The following guidelines should apply to any rangeland monitoring program:

2.24.1. The objective of such programs should be to assist in managing federal rangelands to support its continued use for economically viable livestock grazing while maintaining other multiple uses;

2.24.2. The monitoring of range condition and trend shall be performed only by qualified persons trained in the proper use of applicable monitoring criteria and protocols; 

2.24.3. Such monitoring protocols shall be site-specific, scientifically valid and subject to peer review; and 

2.24.4. Monitoring data, including field notes, should be available for review by permittees and the general public and should be periodically verified.

2.25.    On state and federal government grazing permits and/or lease rules, the word "grazing" needs to be further defined as livestock consumption of forage and brush for livestock production with benefits of weed and fire control;

2.26.    Legislation that would release lessees of private or public lands from liability arising from incidents with livestock or livestock protection animals;

2.27.    The continuation and expansion of the Experimental Stewardship Program with the establishment of at least one stewardship ranch on each national forest and on each grazing district;

2.28.    Compensation for livestock owners for losses which result from livestock entering restricted areas on federal lands;

2.29.    Compensation for permittees on federal lands for economic losses experienced when grazing rights are reduced, due to drought, wildlife conflict, or fire damage, or terminated to allow the lands involved to be used for another public purpose or when the reduction or termination is due to no mismanagement by the permittee. Where feasible, the federal agency should offer an allotment in another area to the affected permittee;

2.30.    Holders of grazing permits and/or leases not being penalized or removed from allotments due to errors or omissions of the land managing agency;

2.31.    Allowing supplemental feeding on federal rangelands, utilizing weed free forage;

2.32.    The permanent restoration of grazing advisory boards and revising their procedures to provide effective input from livestock grazing permittees; and

2.33.    Streamlining of the allotment management planning process to ensure that a fair settlement can be achieved in a timely manner through agreement with all interested parties. 

3.         We oppose:

3.1.      Any buy-out or permanent retirement of BLM and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) grazing permits, whether initiated by the federal government or other organizations;

3.2.      The purchase of grazing permits by groups who qualify under the Taylor Grazing Act if those groups intend to relinquish the permits to the public land agency;

3.3.      The USFS ruling which will prevent grazing permits for 25 head or less to be transferred; and

3.4.      Public agencies retiring permits which have been purchased or are in paid nonuse by non-livestock users unless the NEPA process demonstrates grazing is no longer a suitable use of the resource.

512 / National Forest Management

1.             We support:

1.1.      Revision of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) standards and guidelines for the West and Great Plains geographic areas by adopting livestock grazing, timber production and mineral development as a primary key value, with wildlife and recreation as secondary key values, so that year-round residents' economic opportunities will be expanded and adequate recreational opportunities will be provided at the same time;

1.2.      Modifying the base property transfer policy to allow for the transfer of grazing rights without transferring base property or livestock, provided the purchaser has adequate livestock and base property to service the new permit;

1.3.      Urging USFS to allow the leasing of grazing permits to another party, when the base property is leased by the same party;

1.4.      The USFS resuming the orderly cutting of timber;

1.5.      A study of all viable forest consolidation alternatives including those that cross regional boundaries;

1.6.      Legislation to guarantee owners of patented property lying within USFS boundaries access to existing roads without requiring special use permits;

1.7.      The USFS paying its fair share for maintenance of local roads and fire protection that pass or go through its boundaries;

1.8.      A timber sales program that does not reduce the allowable cut of timber, but continues to provide an adequate source of raw material for timber-dependent communities and industry and to support each state's timber economy;

1.9.      Offering sufficient timber for sale to give the small operator (small enough to be below bonding limits) an opportunity to bid on the timber and encourage the harvesting of firewood;

1.10.    The sale of marketable saw timber from USFS land only on a competitive bid basis with right of refusal if bids are below competitive prices;

1.11.    Clear-cutting as a forestry management practice where this practice is consistent with sound silvicultural practices;

1.12.    The rebuilding of the salvage sale program on dead, dying and down timber; and

1.13.    Legislation requiring those filing appeals on timber sales be required to reimburse the government for all costs incurred by the appeal if the reasons in the appeal were found to be frivolous in nature and were overridden by USFS or a court of law.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      Allowing the appeals process to halt timber harvest from federal lands once a forest management plan is adopted;

2.2.      Further right of way acquisitions until:

2.2.1.   Complete studies have been made of environmental impact, the effect on the private land area and ranching operations involved, and the effect on people living in the area; and

2.2.2.   USFS has negotiated with each individual landowner where right-of-way acquisition is desired to determine what requirements the landowner wishes, and has satisfied these requirements in a just and equitable manner;

2.3.      The consolidation of USFS and BLM under one department in either Agriculture or Interior; and

2.4.      The closing of national forests and public roads.

513 / National Parks Management

1.             We support:

1.1.      Legislation allowing agricultural activities to be conducted within national parks when there is an historical basis for such a use;

1.2.      Improved access roads through national parks allowing motorized access to these natural resource areas;

1.3.      Management of wildlife numbers within national park boundaries and wildlife management areas consistent with range-carrying capacity as developed using standard range management techniques, including control of wandering wildlife onto private lands and a program of wildlife disease control within the park system;

1.4.      Legislation allowing hunting and trapping in national parks to control the overpopulation of wildlife;

1.5.      Retaining the present names of national monuments and parks; 

1.6.      National park lands being available and accessible accommodating the recreational use of these lands. We recommend designated ATV trails and roads be readily available, properly identified and posted to be enjoyed for the intended use by any and all citizens;

1.7.      Removing the World Heritage designation from all national parks and waterways; and

1.8.      Providing sanitary restroom facilities in national parks and monuments.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      The taking of privately owned land for the development of national parks or park "buffer zones;"

2.2.      The development of a comprehensive plan for the management and use of non-federally owned lands and waters by any federally created commission or agency;

2.3.      Efforts to condemn privately owned farmland and ranch land within the boundaries of national parks;

2.4.      The designation of national parks as wilderness areas;

2.5.      The establishment of integral vistas surrounding state and national parks;

2.6.      Actions or recommendations by the Natural Heritage Committee of the United Nations if they establish a buffer zone around national sites which affect the use of lands, waters or natural resources, outside the boundaries of those sites; and

2.7.      Removing the National Park Service from the Department of the Interior.

514 / National, Trails, Landmarks & Monuments

1.             We support:

1.1.      Requiring the government agency involved in cases where federal and private lands are included in a national historic trail, to define the boundaries between these lands;

1.2.      Stringent enforcement of trespass laws along all national historical trails;

1.3.      Any legislation for the study or designation of greenbelt corridors require notification of private property owners included in or adjoining the proposed area before enactment;

1.4.      Rewriting the Antiquities Act to revoke the executive branch’s ability to designate national monuments. Congress, with the approval of state and local governments, should be the body to designate national monuments; and

1.5.      Any reform should also require:

1.5.1.   That all existing natural resource uses are protected in such designations; and

1.5.2.   That the Antiquities Act can only be used on contiguously owned federal land and may not be used where a tract of private land will be surrounded by a designated national monument.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      The exclusion of park lands that have received funds through the Land Water Conservation Fund Act (LWCF) from consideration for siting power line routes and waste disposal facilities or other public entities; and

2.2.      The establishment of national landmarks on private lands without landowner consent.

515 / Riparian Area Management

1.             We support:

1.1.      Expanding the Coordinated Resource Management approach to consider all existing uses in the development of riparian area management plans;

1.2.      The uniform definition of "riparian area" to mean an area of land directly influenced by permanent water that has visible vegetation or physical characteristics reflective of permanent water influence;

1.3.      Cooperation with federal land management agencies and researchers by offering demonstration plots to help establish dependable scientific data for riparian area management;

1.4.      Adequate training in plant physiology and animal husbandry for land management personnel working on riparian area management plans;

1.5.      Greater consideration to livestock grazing needs in the development of grazing management policies on riparian areas;

1.6.      Grazing associations and/or individual permittees having opportunities to participate and monitor use of riparian areas in a practical manner;

1.7.      Protection of private property rights in any riparian area management activities;

1.8.      Management of riparian areas based on positive cost/benefit ratios;

1.9.      Preparation of plans on a site-specific basis;

1.10.    Basing allowable use on a percentage of the overall allotment rather than dictated by what use is occurring on specific riparian areas within allotments; and

1.11.    Riparian pastures rather than exclusion corridors, consistent with appropriate streambank protection.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      Federal land agencies fencing off riparian areas within grazing allotments. In those rare instances where fencing may be necessary, we favor fencing only the affected areas allowing lanes to the stream for livestock watering, or cost-share assistance for off-site watering;

2.2.      Moving too quickly in the planning process on riparian areas before good scientific information through monitoring of demonstration plots identifies the real potential for improvement of the various types of riparian areas and impacts such management would have on traditional uses; and

2.3.      Private land riparian inholdings being considered as sources of data for management decisions or as strategy points to dictate action on an entire allotment.

516 / Transfer of Federal Lands

1.             We support the following guidelines:

1.1.      The transfer of public lands from federal land management to state and local governments, including privatization. Lands transferred to state and local control should be administered under multiple-use management;

1.2.      Due regard must be given to traditional rights of use;

1.3.      Dominant economic users should have right of first refusal;

1.4.      After a refusal, the land under permit, as well as non-permitted federal lands, should be sold to the highest bidder, or disposed into private ownership by an alternate method;

1.5.      Where permitted grazing lands contain commercial timber, timber will be sold to permittee at fair market value;

1.6.      The capitalization into private base property values of attached grazing right values must be fairly and equitably recognized as prior partial payment of the permitted land;

1.7.      Agricultural lands acquired through foreclosure by government lenders should not be transferred to other government agencies. All rights associated with these lands shall be conveyed to the purchaser and none retained by the seller;

1.8.      The funds received from the disposition of federal lands should be dedicated to retirement of the national debt;

1.9.      The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management should trade or sell land with the current lessee when so requested. This should be done to block up land where current lessee has a checkerboard pattern of deeded land. Land trades should not erode the county tax base; and

1.10.    Government agencies should lease development rights surrounding military facilities rather than purchasing the land.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      The policy of federal and state government agencies purchasing land from nonprofit organizations at a profit; 

2.2.      The eligibility for sale of federal lands:

2.2.1.   Within the National Park System (NPS);

2.2.2.   Within the National Wildlife Refuge System;

2.2.3.   Indian trusts;

2.2.4.   Wilderness areas;

2.2.5.   Wild and scenic rivers;

2.2.6.   National or historic trails;

2.2.7.   National conservation areas;

2.2.8.   Other congressionally designated areas; and

2.2.9.   That contains lakes, which are environmentally or economically important to a state.

2.3.      The transfer by deed or lease of any of the federal or state-owned lands to any foreign government or the United Nations.

3.         We support the Red River Private Property Protection Act.

517 / Wild Horses & Burros

1.             Affected states should take necessary action to require the Bureau of Land Management to comply with the provisions of the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (Act). The federal government must support:

1.1.      Acknowledging that wild horses and burros are feral animals;

1.2.      Managing horse and burro populations in compliance with agency resource management plans;

1.3.      State responsibility and action in accordance with the respective state’s abandoned livestock laws or statutes;

1.4.      Maintaining a thriving natural ecological balance on the range for all multiple uses;

1.5.      Effective and efficient fertility control including sterilizations to minimize population growth and reduce the cost of gathers;

1.6.      Utilizing any humane method of removing excess wild horses and burros from the range including, but not limited to, the use of helicopters, bait and traps and lethal control;

1.7.      Transferring title of wild horses immediately upon adoption;

1.8.      Horses and burros that have been held in government captivity for more than six months and are deemed unsuitable for adoption being sold without limitation to the highest bidder or being euthanized;

1.9.      The testing for diseases;

1.10.    Proportional reduction in wild horse and burro numbers in the event livestock numbers have to be reduced for any reason;

1.11.    Amending the Act to allow states and tribes the option to manage horses and burros within their respective boundaries; and

1.12.    The development of a program to systematically transfer unadoptable mustangs and burros to third-world countries as humanitarian effort for the use as small-scale draft animals, transportation and other domestic uses.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      Reduction or elimination of livestock grazing rights due to misuse of federal lands by wild horses or burros;

2.2.      Any new or expanded wild horse and burro territories being established on public land or imposed on private land;

2.3.      Using taxpayer funds for marketing campaigns;

2.4.      Designating horse or burro herds as treasured or other special classifications; and

2.5.      Any federal agency providing protection of abandoned or stray horses.  

518 / Wilderness Areas

1.             Established wilderness criteria threaten multiple use areas by prohibiting the employment of motorized tools and mechanized vehicles in watershed management, trail maintenance, soil treatment, noxious weed control, waste management and fire protection.

2.         We support:

2.1.      Releasing non-wilderness areas for multiple uses;

2.2.      Delisting wilderness study areas that have been listed by government agencies for more than five years and fail to reach wilderness status;

2.3.      Requesting the USDA and the Department of the Interior, in determining roadless areas, redefine their interpretation of "roads" as any road that is maintained for vehicular traffic rather than the definition which considers only constructed, regularly maintained roads as legal roads;

2.4.      Allowing permittees operating within designated wilderness areas to care for their livestock, range improvements, and control predators in the traditional manner;

2.5.      Salvaging timber on designated wilderness or WSA’s damaged by natural causes;

2.6.      Reopening any designated wilderness area (including roads and trails) which has been closed to the public and to multiple use on the petition of a majority of local citizens and/or any local, county or state government;

2.7.      Wilderness areas being available and accessible to accommodate the recreational use of these lands. We recommend designated ATV trails and roads be readily available, properly identified and posted to be enjoyed for the intended use by any and all citizens; and

2.8.      Amending the Wilderness Act of 1964 to satisfy local residents' concerns including economics, property rights and water rights. County governments should have the right to ratify or reject any proposed wilderness area.

3.         We oppose:

3.1.      Expansion of wilderness areas. However, if wilderness legislation becomes imminent, we should work to protect private property rights and the traditional multiple-use practices on federal land;

3.2.      Either an express or implied reservation of water or water rights for wilderness or special management areas. We believe any water rights claimed for any federal lands should be subject to acquisition only under state water rights law;

3.3.      The Environmental Protection Agency becoming involved in any wilderness studies;

3.4.      Including buffer zones in any future wilderness proposals; and

3.5.      Any more private property being acquired by state or federal governments for wilderness, national preserve or any other nonproductive or non-economical use. 

519 / Wildland Fires

1.             We support:

1.1.      Management of public forests for wildfire hazard reduction and use of renewable wood products; including thinning and prescribed burns and the harvest of mature, over mature, and dead timber;

1.2.      Livestock grazing as a viable fire suppression tool to reduce burnable fuels on federal, state, county and private lands including grazing contracts on non-grazed public lands to reduce excess fuel that contributes to range or forest fires;

1.3.      Clear national direction on timely post-fire and disease-related salvage and reforestation;

1.4.      Expediting and streamlining environmental considerations of proposals to remove dead, burned or mature timber;

1.5.      Changing state and federal wildfire policy to require that state and federal fire managers and incident commanders coordinate with county and local fire departments and landowners including acting as first responders and contributing to firefighting efforts;

1.6.      A provision that states and federal agencies will allow forest or rangeland protective associations in neighboring states that meet the requirements of their home state to enter into mutual aid agreements with forest and rangeland protective associations across state lines; 

1.7.      Changing fire control policy to put any fire out upon arrival or as soon as safely possible when the protection of the health, safety and property of the citizens are in jeopardy, the local protective associations must be allowed to act beyond the first response and initial attack phase of fire;

1.8.      A provision that state and federal agencies maintain a fire break strategically located to protect private property and to control large wild fires;

1.9.      State and federal efforts to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire;

1.10.    A streamlined process done at a local level for fire suppression and prevention that includes a plan to reduce the fuel load by targeted grazing, prescribed burns, green stripping, permanent fire breaks, waivers from Endangered Species Act protections and National Environmental Policy Act requirements;

1.11.    Lifting wilderness restrictions on motorized vehicles when they hamper suppression and prevention activities and when a fire breaks out;

1.12.    Full compensation for property damaged on private or public managed land by the federal agency that is in charge of fighting or controlling the fire/burn, initiated or authorized by that agency;

1.13.    Immediate federal response to flood control risks following a wildfire and compensation to property owners when flooding is not controlled;

1.14.    Requiring the federal agency to maintain the infrastructure on federal lands that the government has taken out of production so that land can be used for grazing in the event of fire on other grazing sections of the forest;

1.15.    High priority to regaining access to remote areas by law enforcement after fires and flooding;

1.16.    The development of an improved communications strategy between incident command team managers and grazing permittees; 

1.17.    The funding of fire suppression; and

1.18.    Compliance with county-implemented burn bans on National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands.

2.         We oppose wildland fire use on or adjacent to government agency grazing allotments prior to or during active grazing seasons.

LAND 

525 / Land Ownership

1.             Experience has shown that an improving environment is dependent upon economic productivity, and that economic productivity is dependent upon private ownership of the means of production. Because we view land as a means of production, we are troubled that over one-third of the land in this nation is owned by the federal government.

2.         Research, documentation, and designation of natural, historical, scenic or exceptional sites or waters shall not occur without:

2.1.      Prior written notification to the owner and local elected officials of complete purpose and scope of the study or designation;

2.2.      Landowners' consent in writing; and

2.3.      All records of the above being made open and available to the public.

3.         We support:

3.1.      A national policy of no net loss of private lands;

3.2.      An option for current surface landowners to buy back U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Natural Resource Conservation Service perpetual conservation easements at market value;

3.3.      The right of a producer to use conservation easements;

3.4.      State and local input in the establishment of any federal heritage area or corridor. Private property rights, is a means for a private property owner, a county, or other municipal authority to opt out of a proposed or established heritage area or corridor;

3.5.      The principle that any land designation by the United Nations or any other non-U.S. entity must first be approved by Congress;

3.6.      Compensation to local governments or their political subdivisions when the federal government devalues real property belonging to these entities through rules, regulations, mandates, or restrictions in the amount that the real property was devalued or funds in lieu of taxes reduced;

3.7.      The continuation of all non-reservation property being subject to the same taxes and laws after the land is purchased, acquired or given to Native American nations and put into trust;

3.8.      Payment by the federal government of defendant attorneys' fees, disbursements, court fees and costs, and any monetary damages awarded to Native Americans in cases brought by tribes against the property of individual landowners;

3.9.      Repeal of Section 2 of the Crow Act of 1920 (acreage ownership limitation); and

3.10.    Streamlining statutory and regulatory requirements that protect archaeological (cultural) resources.

4.         We oppose:

4.1.      Further expansion of federal land ownership;

4.2.      Using federal funds to finance land acquisitions by tax-exempt environmental organizations and transferring lands owned by such groups to any federal agency;

4.3.      Mandated perpetual easements;

4.4.      The qualification of newly acquired land by Native Americans as tribal for construction of casinos and other such activities;

4.5.      The taking of privately owned land in settling Indian land claims; and

4.6.      The taking by the federal government of private land into trust for the development of off-reservation business enterprises.

526 / Land Use Planning

1.             We believe that land use planning can best be accomplished at the county or comparable level of government and by private landowners.

2.         Adequate returns on investment from agricultural land and tax incentives for production agriculture are the most effective methods of preserving production of food and fiber.

3.         We support:

3.1.      Requiring all lands, including state and federal lands, being subject to all provisions of local land use planning ordinances that do not adversely affect private property rights or the selective restraint of commerce;

3.2.      Legislation preventing an agency from controlling the use of lands by proclamation;

3.3.      The use of incentives to encourage commercial reuse or redevelopment of existing business or industrial sites rather than new undeveloped site;

3.4.      The following safeguards in any land use plan:

3.4.1.   Representation of agricultural producers on all planning and control boards;

3.4.2.   The right of appeal by an individual landowner at all levels, especially the local level; and

3.4.3.   Protection for private ownership rights;

3.5.      The voluntary transfer of development rights to limit farmland conversion; 

3.6.      Continued funding of the Forest Legacy Act; and

3.7.      Conservation easements for less than perpetuity to be available to farmers and ranchers with a federal tax deduction.

4.         We oppose:

4.1.      The continued encroachment of federal and state agencies and local governments on agricultural and forest lands;

4.2.      Federal legislation and agency policy which would impose land use regulations as a qualification for federal grants and loans;

4.3.      Any effort to establish buffer areas without just compensation around parks, preserves or other areas being protected for their environmental or ecological value;

4.4.      The formation or expansion of any state or federal wildlife refuges, recreational, conservation or wilderness areas which result in a net loss of private lands;

4.5.      The creation of a national wildlife refuge by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service without congressional approval;

4.6.      State or national wildlife refuges, recreational or conservation areas impeding the existing natural and artificial drainage systems of landowners in the watershed;

4.7.      Compliance with Natural Resource Conservation Service standards as a requirement in any farmland protection program;

4.8.      Arbitrary limitations in the federal Farmland Protection Program that may discourage participation or impair state or local initiatives; and

4.9.      Federal assistance to states for land use planning.

527 / Private Forestry

1.             Our forests constitute one of our most valuable renewable resources. Forestry should continue to be recognized as an environmentally beneficial agricultural enterprise. We believe that clear-cutting and prescribed burning are beneficial tools in forest, wildlife and environmental management.

2.         Under the forestry title of any farm law, the program should be administered in the state as follows:

2.1.      The governor, with landowner and state Farm Bureau input, should appoint a committee made up of a majority of private timberland interests; and

2.2.      The state committee should not allow permanent transfer of property rights allowing public access to private lands.

3.         We support:

3.1.      A privately owned, sustained-yield forest industry assisted by essential public services such as research, fire protection and pest control;

3.2.      The development and use of voluntary certification programs as a means of supporting sustainable forestry practices, while allowing forest landowners to be recognized and rewarded for their conservation practices;

3.3.      The cooperation of all government agencies in efforts to improve the management of private forests;

3.4.      Research to improve the quality and productivity of private, non-industrial forest lands and favor cost-effective technical assistance, production and incentive programs;

3.5.      The use of tax incentives for improving forest land management practices;

3.6.      The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) providing regular updates to its inventory of forest growth and condition on public and private timberlands. The inventory should not be used to identify endangered or threatened species or their habitat;

3.7.      The use of renewable and environmentally friendly resources such as wood and agricultural products for the construction of pallets and containers for use in shipping;

3.8.      The design of timberland riparian zone management specifications to accommodate stream sizes and classification, stream bank conditions, and timber management as determined by a professional forester;

3.9.      Requiring governmental agencies to pay the private landowner the difference in the value between the most profitable way to manage timberland and the value left in those instances when governmental regulations require the involuntary taking of the landowner's property rights;

3.10.    Developing a federal Kudzu Cost Sharing Eradication Program administered through the USFS;

3.11.    Federal legislation to address interstate theft of timber based on point of harvest and on point of first delivery;

3.12.    The idea that governmental agencies should accept financial responsibility when participants follow specific tree transplant program guidelines and seedlings are damaged or destroyed;

3.13.    The re-classification of Christmas trees from a forestry product to an agricultural product; and

3.14.    A hardwood timber reforestation program.

4.         We oppose restrictions on the process or use of chemically treated lumber products without adequate research.

528 / Sodbuster and Swampbuster

1.             The regulatory provisions under the sodbuster and swampbuster subtitle should be directed to the original conservation goals of not plowing out fragile grasslands and wetlands. Unless the regulations can be revised to be consistent with these goals, we support:

1.1.      Legislation to repeal the current sodbuster and swampbuster regulations. Implementation of sodbuster regulations should not differentiate between persons holding or not holding conservation reserve program contracts;

1.2.      Allowing the secretary to waive penalties if converted wetlands would have a minimal effect on the biological and hydrological value of a wetland;

1.3.      Local Farm Service Agency (FSA) committees determining the reasonable minimum size;

1.4.      Vegetative crops grown as rotation crops, including hay should be exempt from the sodbuster provisions;

1.5.      A statute of limitations of two years for FSA and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for wetlands violations. The standard for determining fines for such violations, the prosecution to be performed, and the penalties assessed should be completed in a timely manner (one year or less). Penalties should only apply to future crop years on noncompliant tracts and landlords and tenants should be allowed an opportunity to mitigate before penalties are applied for actions taken in good faith;

1.6.      Farmers being allowed to maintain and improve existing drainage systems. FSA should only withhold payments on disputed converted acres and not the entire farm. When a dispute over converted acres does occur, county and state FSA committees shall have the authority to negotiate a reasonable settlement. Farms not enrolled in federal FSA programs should not be required to meet swampbuster and sodbuster requirements. FSA, NRCS and the Army Corps of Engineers should help, not hinder, efforts to tile fields, thus improving overall water quality;

1.7.      Drainage districts that maintain drainage structures being allowed to upgrade those structures, especially those at or near the end of their life expectancy, without subjecting landowners to wetland violations or any additional federal permits; 

1.8.      The timely issuance of wetland determinations by qualified NRCS staff; 

1.9.      A unified method of wetland determinations by NRCS for all agencies; and

1.10.    Amending 7CFR 614.6(b) to allow NRCS to notify participants of preliminary technical decisions of the Food Security Act of 1985 to be sent regular mail for non-adverse decisions.

2.         We oppose farm program incentives that encourage producers to bring fragile lands under cultivation. Fragile lands are defined as those lands that NRCS deems to be subject to excessive rates of wind and water erosion.


529 / Sovereign Nations

1.             We oppose:

1.1.      Identification of Native American Tribes as "Sovereign Nations";

1.2.      Federal legislation that would create sovereign states of Native American reservations; and

1.3.      Any effort of any federally recognized Native American Tribe to extend their reservation status or sovereignty to non-tribal lands.

PROPERTY RIGHTS 

535 / Eminent Domain

1.             The taking of property or easements should be permitted only when there is a clear-cut public project and the completion of the project is guaranteed.

2.         Eminent domain shall not be used to condemn or transfer property from one private entity to another private entity for economic development or any other private use.

3.         We support:

3.1.      Prompt, just and adequate compensation, including legal costs, expert witness fees, associated costs, relocation costs, appraisals including highest and best use, replacement costs and participation fees;

3.2.      Adequate time to allow for satisfactory relocation of former owners;

3.3.      The following procedures in eminent domain proceedings:

3.3.1.   Good faith negotiations by the condemning entity to acquire property before initiating condemnation;

3.3.2.   Providing a landowner in eminent domain cases five years from the time of the original settlement in which to negotiate claims for damages that may not have been confirmed at the time of the initial settlement.

3.3.3.   Requiring public bodies proposing acquisition of property for public purposes to send a written notice at least 60 days prior to any formal public hearing and to hold such hearing before any land is optioned or purchased;

3.3.4.   Giving property owners the right to judicial review of the need and location of the proposed taking; and

3.3.5.   Requiring companies to obtain a performance bond to fulfill the obligations of the easement or license agreement;

3.4.      Requiring entities having the power of eminent domain for right of way, either by condemnation, threat of condemnation, or easement to maintain natural drainage and being held liable for damage to landowners;

3.5.      Freedom from liability for landowner or tenant for any accidental or inadvertent breakage or disruption of service on any lines, cables or pipelines;

3.6.      An environmental impact statement being prepared as a prerequisite for any eminent domain proceeding;

3.7.      Changes in legislation regarding eminent domain cases that would strengthen the rights of landowners and would allow them greater latitude to present evidence in court proceedings; 

3.8.      All utility lines, cables and pipelines being properly installed according to appropriate specifications. Such installations should be adequately marked; and

3.9.      Maintaining state authority to exempt normal agricultural and farm tillage practices from one-call requirements under Federal Pipeline Safety Regulations.

4.         We oppose:

4.1.      The use of eminent domain for recreational purposes, open space, private economic development or expansion of the land holdings of wildlife agencies;

4.2.      Legislation which grants the right of federal eminent domain to any additional entities;

4.3.      The ability of non-elected boards, agencies and commissions, public or private, to utilize the eminent domain process;

4.4.      Condemnation of property in fee title if a lesser interest will suffice;

4.5.      The use of eminent domain to acquire properties intended for future sale. Any lands taken for public purposes and not promptly used for that purpose (i.e., within a maximum period of five years) must be offered immediately to the prior owners or their heirs at a price no higher than the original purchase price;

4.6.      The practice of acquiring new rights of way through farmland when existing public corridors exist, such as railways, highways, power lines, pipelines, etc. Government-owned lands and wetlands should be utilized prior to the consideration of any privately owned land;

4.7.      Legislation that grants the right of federal eminent domain to any additional entity except in crossing property controlled by another carrier that already has federal eminent domain authority; and

4.8.      Any government entity taking private property by adverse possession without just compensation.

536 / Proprietary Data

1.             Proprietary data collected from farming and agricultural operations is valuable, should remain the property of the farmer, and warrants protection.

2.         We support:

2.1.      Farm equipment owners and individual service technicians having access to diagnostic tools, equipment, procedures, service, and technical information necessary at a fair and reasonable price;

2.2.      Efforts to better educate farmers and ranchers regarding new technology or equipment that may receive, record, transmit, share and/or sell their farming and production data;

2.3.      Requiring anyone who is collecting, storing, and analyzing proprietary data, including photographs, to provide full disclosure of their intended use of the data;

2.4.      Formation of standardized protocols regarding privacy and terms of conditions to ensure a standard definition of all components within the contract. We should be an active participant in developing these protocols;

2.5.      Compensation to farmers whose proprietary data is shared with third parties that offer products, services or analyses benefitting from that data; 

2.6.      Multiple participation options being included in all contracts;

2.7.      All proprietary information between the farmer and the company remaining between the two entities.  This would not preclude a farmer from sharing data with whomever he/she chooses (e.g., a consultant); 

2.8.      Ensuring proprietary data are stored at an entity that is not subject to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, utilizing all safeguards, including encryption, to protect the data;

2.9.      The farmer’s right to enter into agreement and their rights to sell their proprietary data to another producer (e.g., in a land sale);

2.10.    Private companies entering into agreements which would allow for the compatibility/updating of equipment and updating of software; 

2.11.    The right of a farmer to have access to their own data, regardless of when it was shared with a company; 

2.12.    Language in user agreement contracts to allow producers to remove their data from the company’s database and revoke that company’s ability to sell or use that data in the future; 

2.13.    Programs to increase producers’ awareness on how their data is being managed, secured, protected or used;

2.14.    Ag-tech providers (ATP) assuming liability of all data breaches; 

2.15.    ATPs clearly explaining the definition of the terms “affiliate,” “business partner” and “third party” and in all precision ag contracts;

2.16.    Farmers having the ability to control when and where they utilize precision ag technology, i.e. field-to-field kill switch; and 

2.17.    The development and use of independent, third-party evaluation of the variables used by ATPs in their privacy policies and user agreements.

3.         We oppose any federal agency or FOIA-eligible entity from serving as a data clearinghouse for all proprietary data or aggregated data collected by private companies.

537 / Private Property Rights

1.             We believe in the American capitalistic, private, competitive enterprise system in which property is privately owned, privately managed and operated for profit and individual satisfaction. Any erosion of that right weakens all other rights guaranteed to individuals by the Constitution. Any action by government that diminishes an owner's right to use his property constitutes a taking of that owner's property.

2.         When regulations or legislation regarding rare, threatened or endangered species or environmental restrictions alter agricultural practices, agricultural producers should be compensated for the cost of these altered agricultural practices.

3.         New technology expands the boundaries of property rights infringement. Federal laws should evolve with these technological advancements to maintain the traditional concepts of private property rights. 

4.         We support:

4.1.      Government providing due process and compensation to the exact degree that an owner's right to use and the value of the property has been diminished by government action;

4.2.      All levels of government abiding by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation”;

4.3.      An open public process for the transfer of lands and/or regulatory jurisdictions between state, federal and/or local agencies for development that considers the impact on surrounding land, including agriculture;

4.4.      Legislation that requires federal officials to identify themselves, notify property owners and obtain written permission or a search warrant before going onto private property;

4.5.      Regulation that would prevent the publication of maps produced by Global Positioning System (GPS) data without marking private roads as not available for public use;

4.6.      Regulation that would prevent internet routing through private roads except for delivery to a specific home or business located on the private road;

4.7.      Review of all federal regulations that encroach on the rights of property owners;

4.8.      A definition of private property that includes all land, timber, water rights or other valuable considerations associated with land ownership;

4.9.      Enactment of presidential Executive Order 12630 regarding the protection of private property rights law;

4.10.    The basis for just compensation being fair market value of the property or the economic loss to the owner or any adjoining landowner whose property is devalued;

4.11.    Compensation for partial takings of the property being based on the reduction in the value of the total property;

4.12.    Business owners having the exclusive right to prohibit tobacco use in their private business;

4.13.    Buffers around the perimeter of military bases designed to keep land in production agriculture being clearly focused on that purpose alone;

4.14.    Reimbursement to businesses, industries and farmers who have expended sums of money to prove they are meeting environmental regulations if they show they were meeting the requirements before the government agency questioned their performance;

4.15.    Protection of adjoining landowners by providing adequate fencing and protection from liability issues related to the use of such facilities in cases where recreational trails are established;

4.16.    Legislation that allows any U.S. citizen, regardless of race, color, creed or national origin, to own reindeer;

4.17.    Legislation that would protect innocent private property owners from property confiscation in the event that illegal substances are found, stored or growing on private property without the landowner's knowledge or consent;

4.18.    Legislation to ensure that all information, including video and audio recordings, from private farms and farm production is treated as private property and is to be made available and/or controlled by the farm owner and operator. We believe that the estate administrator or trustee shall have access to all digital assets and other electronic forms of communication as part of the estate;

4.19.    Continued public availability of Differential Global Positioning System signals;

4.20.    Repeal of those provisions of scenic byway legislation that would result in the loss of private property rights; 

4.21.    The right to sell land remaining in the hands of landowners; and

4.22.    If the government claims an important public interest in private property it should be required to specifically identify the area and the reason for the determination.

5.         We oppose:

5.1.      Any legislation or application of the Public Trust Doctrine that would allow public access to or through private property without permission of the property owner or authorized agent;

5.2.      The gathering of data from private property when that data may be used to facilitate federal land use planning;

5.3.      Action by federal agencies, acting individually or collectively, which would result in:

5.3.1.   An involuntary net loss of private land in any state; and

5.3.2.   Increasing the amount of land which is exempt from state and local laws and property taxes;

5.4.      Any agency designating a citizen's land as a historical site without the owner's approval; 

5.5.      Regulatory enforcement based solely on aerial surveillance;

5.6.      Government entities, other than local fire authorities, regulating burning of burdensome vegetative growth on private property; and

5.7.      Any concept of civil asset forfeiture that allows any agency to seize private property without due process and without a presumption of innocence of the property owner. 

538 / Right-of-way Easement

1.             Easement rights of way obtained by public or private sectors shall not be committed to any new or additional purpose either during their original usage or after abandonment without consent of the owner of the land underlying the easement. We promote the philosophy that if rights of way are developed for recreational purposes, lands should be purchased from willing sellers. We oppose federal legislation that would deny or postpone the reversionary property rights or interests of underlying or adjacent property owners to railroad, utility or road rights of way that are no longer being used for the purpose for which the rights of way were granted.

2.         We oppose permitting utility rights of way, including railroad rights of way, to be used for other purposes without permission of adjoining landowners and the holder of the underlying property interest. We oppose the use of National Interest Energy Transmission Corridor designations to facilitate condemnation of agricultural land, open space, and conservation or preservation easements. Historic livestock driveways should be kept open for use on federal and state lands. When a railroad is abandoned, the rights of way should be returned by the railroad to the adjacent and/or underlying property owners. Where the railroad owns the right of way, in fee simple, the property should first be offered for sale to adjacent landowners with right of first refusal upon discontinuance of rail service.

3.         Property owners should have access to condition reports of underground pipelines carrying fuel or other hazardous materials in their community.

4.         We support repeal of the National Trails System Act unless it is amended to protect the rights of property owners in the following manner:

4.1.      Permit railbanking without interim trail use, and permit landowners to retain abandoned railroad corridors for non-trail uses that will preserve the opportunity for restored rail use in the future;

4.2.      Require railroads to provide timely personal notice to each landowner before each proposed abandonment;

4.3.      Require railroads to reveal to each landowner before abandonment the full and complete legal basis on which the railroad has claimed its right to occupy the corridor. If the railroad's right is less than fee simple ownership, the railroad should be required to disclose to each landowner that its occupancy right will be extinguished upon abandonment;

4.4.      Permit and encourage every landowner to participate in the abandonment proceeding and to offer reasons for or against railbanking or trail use;

4.5.      Create a predictable, objective, bright-line standard that abandonment is deemed to be consummated no later than nine months after issuance of authority to abandon by the Surface Transportation Board (STB);

4.6.      Require STB to supervise, monitor and enforce its orders and conditions on railbanked land, or to empower state and local governments to do so, without pre-emption by federal authorities;

4.7.      Create a procedure for reinstatement of rail service on railbanked corridors;

4.8.      Provide a clear and simple procedure to compensate landowners for their interest in land that is taken as a result of a railbanking order;

4.9.      Require a public comment period or hearing, prior to issuance of any authorization for interim use, where contiguous landowners and other citizens have the opportunity for input into the railbanking process;

4.10.    Require that STB evaluate and make specific findings regarding the appropriateness of a proposed railbanking, consider comments from adjacent landowners, consider the effects of any proposed interim trail use on the safety, health, security, privacy, biosecurity, food security and economic interests of the adjacent landowners, and determine if the right-of-way is suitable for interim trail use prior to issuing a Certificate of Interim Trail Use or Notice of Interim Trail Use;

4.11.    Establish procedures granting STB authority to accept or reject any railbanking agreements entered into between the railroad and a trail sponsor;

4.12.    Require the trail sponsor be responsible for liability, right-of-way fencing, taxes, control of noxious weeds, maintenance of the rights of way and other costs which were required of the railroad, and compensate the owners of rights of way for use of the property easement;

4.13.    Require local governing body approval of the recreational trail project before STB can accept the railbanking agreement between the railroad and the trail sponsor;

4.14.    Following a public comment period, allow only those railroad rights of way which have a realistic probability of being used again for a railroad to be approved for railbanking for a maximum of 10 years; and

4.15.    Request state and local authorities to supervise, monitor and enforce safety, health, land use and other conditions on railbanked land without pre-emption by federal authorities.


539 / Right-to-farm

1.             We support responsible actions designed to allow and protect the privilege and the rights of farmers, ranchers and commercial fishermen to produce and market without undue or unreasonable restrictions, regulations or harassment from the public or private sectors. We support actions to ensure that farmers are protected from undue liability and nuisance suits when carrying out normal production practices.

2.         We support basic right-to-farm, right-to-harvest, right-to-access roads and highways policies designed to secure legislation defending 100 percent of the owner's interest in agricultural development of rural land.

3.         All recognized farming practices should be covered under the right-to-farm policies. We oppose any attempt to restrict or regulate generally accepted farming practices.

4.         The federal government should not classify agricultural operations as industrial or commercial enterprises simply because they do not fit traditional perceptions of agriculture.  Agricultural activities take on many forms and change over time.

WATER 

545 / Floodplain Management

1.             The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) should be designed to provide insurance, not regulate land use. It should not be designed to revert the floodplain to its (historic, former) undeveloped state. Furthermore, rules and regulations regarding floodplain management should not supersede private property rights. We oppose government-mandated flood insurance.

2.         We oppose additional restrictions on activities in the floodplain resulting from the implementation of Presidential Executive Order 13690.

3.         Agriculture in a floodplain should be given recognition as providing positive benefits to the environment and the public good. These benefits should receive the same consideration in cost/benefit analysis as do other environmental benefits.

4.         A one-size-fits-all approach to floodplain regulations does not accommodate the unique physical differences among floodplains.

5.         Regulations, including NFIP, should recognize those differences, which range from the expansive floodplains of major rivers to narrow riverine to non-riverine depressions.

6.         If a levee's flood level protection certification would be lowered due to a revised flow frequency study, structures that existed behind the levee prior to the re-certification should be grandfathered and managed under the NFIP as though the higher flood protection certification still applies. Structures built after the levee's recertification should be managed under the rules that apply with the then current certified flood protection level.

7.         We support:

7.1.      Revisions in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regulations to:

7.1.1.   Allow the limited issuance of certain construction permits by units of local government where the applicant has assumed all risk for flood damage to the structure without jeopardizing the receipt of NFIP funds and other federal monies for those who wish to participate in federal insurance, disaster, and loan programs;

7.1.2.   Provide NFIP and disaster payment eligibility for agricultural property including but not limited to protection from less than 100-year floods. The insurance offered for such property should be at a rate which reflects the degree of protection provided;

7.1.3.   Allow structures located in a floodplain that are "substantially damaged" by means other than a flood to be rebuilt without regard to NFIP regulations and to maintain flood insurance eligibility;

7.1.4.   Update all floodplain maps every 10 years to accurately reflect existing topography; and

7.1.5.   Continue NFIP exemption of property behind properly designed, built, and maintained 100-year certified levees, dams, and other flood control infrastructures;

7.2.      That property owners should be notified and a public hearing held before floodplain designation changes are made;

7.3.      A local, state and/or federal farmland easement program that allows farming, but provides easement payments for temporary flood storage;

7.4.      Streamlining the cooperation and coordination between FEMA and government agencies both within and between states by funding and allowing the Army Corps of Engineers Construction Division to coordinate all flood fighting efforts;

7.5.      The Corps of Engineers as the lead agency for setting standards used to certify levees as protecting against certain levels of flooding. These standards should include provisions to allow reasonable flexibility in administration of the rules such as:

7.5.1.   If the capacity of the levee is found deficient, adequate time should be allowed for repairs before decertification; and

7.5.2.   Rules should account for acceptable levels of permeability in sand levees and the capability to bolster levees during floods;

7.6.      FEMA interim guidelines for wet flood-proofing of agricultural structures and efforts to make them permanent;

7.7.      Amendments to federal regulations and policy that would require dewatering of agricultural land as part of flood recovery efforts;

7.8.      Allowing the replacement construction costs of a structure to be used instead of market value to measure the damage to a structure for purposes of determining whether "substantial damage" has been done;

7.9.      Revising NFIP regulations to allow counties and municipalities, at the local unit's discretion, to sell to private owners those properties bought out by FEMA. In such cases, the property should include an easement restricting surface development rights but allowing normal agricultural practices;

7.10.    Full federal funding for improvement to levees to maintain the existing level of flood frequency protection when induced increases in floodwaters occur due to the adoption of a Comprehensive Plan for Flood Control;

7.11.    USDA-NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program modification to assist farmers in disaster-declared areas in rebuilding and constructing new protection levees and restoring land due to damage from debris, contamination and severe erosion through:

7.11.1. Removal of funding caps on land and levee restoration and rebuilding programs;

7.11.2. Funding land and levee construction based on an approval process of fair cost estimates; and

7.11.3. Availability of long-term, low-interest loans for farmers and landowners working to restore their farmland and levee protection systems; and

7.11.4. Adding cropland to the definition of EWP valuable assets, allowing cropland reclamation activity following flood events to be funded by the NRCS EWP program;

7.12.    Reimbursement for the destruction of property caused by the release of water from a reservoir or the opening of a levee, from the budget of the responsible agency.

546 / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Authority

1.             We support:

1.1.      Legislation to amend Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) to restrict the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (Corps) authority to waterways used for transporting interstate and foreign commerce, or which can be made navigable for these purposes with reasonable effort. We urge that legislation be enacted to clarify and restrict the Corps' responsibilities to those which it exercised prior to 1972;

1.2.      The Corps completing its review of any application and providing a definitive response within 60 days of submission;

1.3.      Legislation restricting the Corps' authority to navigable streams and flowing waterways that have continuous flow 365 days a year. The jurisdiction of the Corps should be constrained to navigable waterways;

1.4.      The Corps and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that exclude converted cropland from the definition of waters of the United States;

1.5.      Legislation to enable farmers and ranchers to protect their property from streambank erosion. The Corps, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fishery Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , and EPA should work with state regulatory officials to allow landowners the flexibility to manage streambank erosion without a site-specific permit;

1.6.      Allowing all structures that are washed out or damaged in floods to be rebuilt or repaired in the original channel to the extent possible;

1.7.      Legislation that provides the Corps the authority and funding to develop and construct streambank and shoreline protection projects to prevent erosion damages to infrastructure;

1.8.      The Corps paying damages to farmers for lands lost to erosion or flooding on rivers or resulting from new navigation locks and dam of Corps managed projects;

1.9.      Inclusion of the value of crops grown in a storm surge protected area as part of the cost-benefit ratio for storm surge protection plans;

1.10.    Enhancing the present reservoir system with added emphasis on flood control and water supply development;

1.11.    Bonding authority for the Corps to expedite lock and dam improvement projects to result in a reduction in project cost and saving of taxpayer dollars;

1.12.    The release of water from Corps' lakes in a manner that prevents flooding of low-lying downstream lands;

1.13.    Removal of log jams and impediments being a part of routine maintenance programs on outlet streams;

1.14.    Completion of all Yazoo Basin flood control projects, including the Yazoo Valley Backwater Project, and the installation of pumping stations to relieve the backwater flooding problems;

1.15.    Requiring a cost-benefit analysis of the effects of changing the hours of operations of any lock and dam. The analysis should include:

1.15.1. The effect on the Corps, local communities and businesses that use or are affected by the lock and dam; and

1.15.2. Public input;

1.16.    The Corps modifying operations of the current Master Water Control Manual to place primary emphasis on flood control;

1.17.    The Corps having authority to make seasonal management adjustments to the Master Manual or Annual Operation Plan to minimize flooding impacts to urban and rural areas. These temporary adjustments should be balanced with agricultural, navigation, transportation, municipal, irrigation, and power generation uses of the river system;

1.18.    Efforts to establish uniform flood control standards between states;

1.19.    The expansion of existing levee districts, or the creation of new levee districts, with the proper funding mechanisms to meet the new Federal Energy Management Agency/Corp of Engineers levee standards;

1.20.    The concept of using the Risk Informed Decision Framework that addresses four evaluation areas: national economic development, environmental quality, regional economic development and other social effects;

1.21.    The Corps adopting flood control, electric generation, navigation and agriculture as their top priorities, and annual appropriations should reflect these priorities;

1.21.1. Lake levels in lakes created or maintained for the purpose of flood control and currently under a lake regulation schedule should be maintained by the Corps’ standards of flood control; and

1.21.2. The Corps’ modernizing reservoir operations and water control manuals to increase water supply where possible;

1.22.    Shifting all habitat restoration funds to restoration and repairs of levees and other infrastructure;

1.23.    Dredging navigable waters to maintain the transportation infrastructure vital for agriculture;

1.24.    The Corps holding annual meetings in each district to seek public input into the best use and operations of its projects; and

1.25.    Establishing guidelines to facilitate the removal of flood-related hazards or related stream clearing activities by property owners or municipalities. These guidelines would:

1.25.1. Provide that in situations deemed emergencies by local, county, state, or national authorities, flood-related hazards may be removed prior to any notification of the agencies;

1.25.2. Require that environmental agencies be notified prior to the removal of flood-related hazards or related stream clearing activities; and

1.25.3. Not require permits or professional engineering services.

2.         We oppose:

2.1.      Dredge-and-fill regulations being applied to agricultural land;

2.2.      The use of federal tax dollars appropriated for erosion control by the Corps being diverted to buy land or easements;

2.3.      The Corps charging fees to water utilities for water storage, for water withdrawal based on Corps' loss of revenue, for annual operation and maintenance costs, and for percentage of any major dam repairs;

2.4.      Any attempt by the Corps to increase fees for their services. The Corps should carry out its obligations to maintain stream flow and drainage in public waterways. The Corps should protect agricultural land use, flood control, power generation and navigation when making decisions about rivers. Land and other flood damage restoration costs should be considered in cost-benefit analysis for private levee repair costs. The Corps should place a value on wetlands equal to the appraised value for the land when calculating cost-benefit ratios for levee repairs, which includes the value of public services in the calculations;

2.5.      The Corps requiring a spring rise of the waters under the jurisdiction of the Corps of Engineers; and

2.6.      Efforts by the Corps or the EPA to expand non-tidal wetlands.

547 / Water Quality

1.             Agricultural Point Sources/Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations 

1.1.      Any new rules, regulations or enforcement of the Clean Water Act (CWA) as applied to concentrated animal feeding operations must:

1.1.1.   Take into consideration the unique climate and topography of each state;

1.1.2.   Preserve the 25-year 24-hour storm permit exemption;

1.1.3.   Not extend point source regulations to nonpoint sources such as farm and ranch fields and pastures;

1.1.4.   Clarify the definition of process wastewater to exclude water mixed with minute amounts of feedstuffs or dust around animal buildings;

1.1.5.   Allow individual states to retain control of implementation of CWA regulations and compliance monitoring; and

1.1.6.   Trigger enforcement only by an actual illegal discharge into the waters of the United States.

1.2.      We support:

1.2.1.   Use of voluntary best management practices be included in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) nutrient management plans;

1.2.2.   Development and use of alternative technology for livestock feeding operations including vegetative treatment areas;

1.2.3.   Cost-share programs to offset the cost of building and maintaining lagoons and other waste management systems when farmers are required to build such systems by state and federal regulations;

1.2.4.   Laws or regulations absolving farmers from liability claims of environmental pollution when building, managing or operating livestock facilities according to the federal CAFO rules;

1.2.5.   Allowing agriculture producers to use herbicides according to label instructions for moss and plant control in canals and ditches without having to obtain a permit;

1.2.6.   Manure that has been spread by tank truck, irrigation or spreader at normal agronomic rates should not be considered point source pollution under the provisions of the CWA. The accidental or unintentional discharge of manure should not be considered point-source pollution under the provisions of the CWA;

1.2.7.   Any Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) that creates no waste water discharge be exempt from classification as a point source; and

1.2.8.   The current qualitative guidance is insufficient to assure that EPA decisions regarding permitting will be fairly and evenly applied.

1.3.      We oppose:

1.3.1.   Reducing the present federal guidelines for CAFOs to less than 1,000 animal units;

1.3.2.   Revisions to EPA regulations pertaining to the designation of CAFOs;

1.3.3.   Co-permitting for livestock operations;

1.3.4.   Requiring AFOs with fewer than 1,000 animal units to develop an environmental management system (EMS) as a condition to avoid an National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit;

1.3.5.   Livestock producers being held responsible for pollution derived from animal nutrients after ownership of the manure has been transferred to another party and removed from the producer's control;

1.3.6.   The number of animal units kept in confinement being the sole determining factor in defining a concentrated animal feeding operation;

1.3.7.   Mandatory NPDES permits on farms and animal operations that do not discharge;

1.3.8.   Efforts to classify a dry litter AFO as a CAFO; and

1.3.9.   Any mechanized system or conveyance used to distribute water, and organic or inorganic compounds to agricultural land be designated as point-source.

2.         Regional Water Quality Initiatives and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) 

2.1.      TMDLs should be scientifically valid, achievable, and economically feasible. If existing state water quality standards do not allow for achievable and economically feasible TMDLs, those standards should be revised. The CWA grants sole authority to states to determine whether, when and how to implement TMDLs. We oppose efforts by EPA to approve, demand or direct state implementation plans either directly or through threats of federal backstops. 

2.2.      We support voluntary best management practices (BMPs) in the development of implementation plans.

3.         Clean Water Act (CWA) Framework and Agricultural Water Quality Programs 

3.1.      CWA regulates the "discharge of pollutants." We oppose changing the wording, meaning or definition of navigable waters in the CWA, the removal of the term "navigable waters" from the CWA and any attempt to broaden the reach of the CWA. Federal CWA jurisdiction should be limited to navigable streams and flowing waterways that have continuous flow 365 days a year. The Act's framework should:

3.1.1.   Maintain state primacy over local land and water decisions;

3.1.2.   Maintain state authority to allocate quantities of water within its jurisdiction and groundwater;

3.1.3.   Promote a clear distinction between which waters are subject to federal jurisdiction and which waters are subject to state jurisdiction; and

3.1.4.   Maintain existing statutory and regulatory exemptions for prior converted croplands and waste treatment systems.

3.2.      We support the concept of cleaning up our nation's water; however, the goal of zero water pollution should be substantially modified. The current focus of the CWA should remain that of achieving fishable and swimmable standards. CWA and Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) regulations should not infringe on property rights, should not result in unfunded mandates for state and local governments and should be subject to cost/benefit and risk assessment analysis. Reauthorization of the federal CWA and CZMA should not alter federal or state water rights and water allocation systems and should encourage state control over these programs.

3.3.      We believe the CWA and the CZMA should allow state flexibility to develop programs to protect water quality as long as they are no more restrictive than federal mandates. The authority for determining impaired waters, establishing standards and criteria, and developing and implementing appropriate response programs and plans should remain with the states with input from farmer representation. Funding should be expanded for research in new technologies and methods that will enable producers to achieve effective environmental stewardship.

3.4.      The pursuit of pollution abatement should be only one of the many factors considered in the development of national water policies. Other factors, including the cost of pollution abatement, the needs of agriculture, the needs for growth and the presence of naturally occurring pollutants, must also be considered.

3.5.      The federal government and its agencies should not require a NPDES permit for interbasin water transfers or require water treatment on interbasin transfers.

3.6.      The CWA does not stand alone in protecting America's waters from pollution. Other ongoing programs at the federal, state, and local level combine to provide an effective foundation for water quality protection and must be funded fully, coordinated with and not superseded by the federal government.

3.7.      The attainment of water quality standards established by federal action under the CWA should take into consideration the particular and difficult problems caused by naturally occurring pollutants. Solving these difficult problems should not come at the expense of the established users of water.

3.8.      We support:

3.8.1.   The reauthorization of section 117 of the CWA without expansion of federal authority;

3.8.2.   Efforts to establish, in rules, a definition and threshold for the level of scientifically valid data necessary to accurately assign a water body's classification, and to determine a water body's quality as it relates to its ability to meet its assigned beneficial uses; Such definition should, at a minimum, include the following:

3.8.2.1.            Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards based on sound science and native baseline levels;

3.8.2.2.            Data that includes, but is not limited to, the historical, geological and hydrological capability of a water body to meet beneficial uses; and

3.8.2.3.            The chemical, physical and biological data collected under an approved sampling and analysis plan. This plan should, at a minimum, specify monitoring location, dates and quality control/quality assurance;

3.8.3.   That baseline determinations of pollution be taken into account when nonpoint source pollution studies and policies are formulated;

3.8.4.   Requiring that data generated by any water quality monitoring program, including development of standards and designated uses, be gathered and analyzed in a manner that meets the highest level of EPA Quality Control and Quality Assurance protocols;

3.8.5.   The monitoring and standards of water quality being administered on a state level;

3.8.6.   Adequate federal funding for United States Geological Survey (USGS) stream gauging program;

3.8.7.   EPA conducting a federally funded cost/benefit analysis and risk assessment before imposing any additional regulatory proposal;

3.8.8.   Amendments to the federal CWA and CZMA to provide that nonpoint sources be dealt with using voluntary Best Management Practices (BMP) or accepted agricultural practices, based on technically and economically feasible control measures; and

3.8.9.   Only state level management of runoff from agricultural nonpoint source related activities. The EPA should recognize states with comprehensive livestock waste management programs as "functionally equivalent" to the federal program under the CWA.

3.9.      The EPA should not grant authority to tribes to regulate water quality standards.

3.10.    The CWA should not expand water quality standards to include the broad category of biological diversity.

3.11.    Tax credits, low-interest loans, grants and preferential tax treatment should be made available to aid and encourage farmers to implement BMP or accepted agricultural practices. The use of BMP or accepted agricultural practices by the farmer or rancher should be conclusive proof of compliance and prevent prosecution under the CWA.

3.12.    Surface and groundwater quality problems, originating at facilities owned, controlled or operated by the federal government, have often deteriorated to the point that positive action must be taken to remediate the problem. To protect our health, land, water and natural resources, federal facilities that have contaminated water affecting private landowners must take the following steps:

3.12.1. Whenever deemed necessary, a professional mediator, with no vested interest, should be engaged to facilitate interactions among the landowners, contractors and responsible federal government agency. The mediator must have access to technical and legal consultants to assist with decision making. The main objective of the mediator is to bring accountability to the remediation process;

3.12.2. Allow only the most affected parties to determine which agency would facilitate the process; and

3.12.3. Cost of the mediation would be the responsibility of the federal agency responsible for the contaminating facility.

4.         Ground Water/Drinking Water 

4.1.      We support:

4.1.1.   The use of Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL) in establishing drinking water standards for pesticides and urge that EPA expedite the standard setting process;

4.1.2.   EPA action based on statistically significant trends that will serve as a warning that the MCL is being approached;

4.1.3.   Action to prevent reaching the MCL;

4.1.4.   EPA work with appropriate federal and state agencies and institutions to best determine environmentally vulnerable areas when considering pesticide registration amendments and use prohibitions;

4.1.5.   USDA as the primary federal agency to development and implementation of any federal groundwater policy or program affecting agriculture. Groundwater policy should be based on adequate scientific research;

4.1.6.   National legislation to ban Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) because of water quality concerns raised in scientific studies;

4.1.7.   State governments be given primary authority and responsibility to respond to agriculturally contaminated groundwater with site specific recommendations to the producer to mitigate contamination. Such a response should involve coordinating all appropriate and necessary resources available to the state to make the determination. The state agriculture departments, where possible, should serve as a lead agency;

4.1.8.   That regulations adopted to prevent pesticide contamination take into account the geological differences of our nation as well as regional agricultural practices, thus allowing the most economical and practical method of contamination prevention;

4.1.9.   EPA and state government authority to require chemical registrants to conduct groundwater monitoring programs in support of their products and as a condition for registration or reregistration. Monitoring must be tied to the development of groundwater standards;

4.1.10. Emphasis be placed on the protection of current and potential potable groundwater. Recognition should be that all groundwater cannot be expected to be potable and should not be subject to the same degree of protection;

4.1.11. The replacement of salt as a deicer on roads, bridges and highways with the alternative products calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) and other agriculturally based products;

4.1.12. We encourage the inclusion of environmental concerns as well as damage to road surfaces, bridges and vehicles as a part of overall cost considerations when comparing salt to CMA as a deicing agent;

4.1.13. Increased research by USDA, in the use of computer modeling, to predict pesticide migration. Cooperative Extension Service offices and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) District offices should develop capability to assist agricultural producers in making site specific use decisions;

4.1.14. Liability for groundwater contamination caused by pesticides be based on levels supported by competent, scientific evidence that show actual harm to human health;

4.1.15. The federal government underwrite groundwater liability insurance much in the same manner that it currently underwrites floodplain insurance; and

4.1.16. Re-evaluation of P.L. 83-566 (NRCS small watershed program) and its emphasis on flood control projects and consideration of its use in the water quality of watersheds and public water supplies.

4.2.      We oppose:

4.2.1.   EPA arbitrarily lowering maximum arsenic levels in rural water systems because a lower level will substantially increase the costs to rural water users;

4.2.2.   Legislation that would regulate the sale and use of nitrogen fertilizers;

4.2.3.   The enactment of federal legislation that would place either civil or criminal liability on farmers and ranchers for following generally accepted agricultural practices, including label instructions;

4.2.4.   Linking farm program benefits with well testing and groundwater contamination concerns; and

4.2.5.   State or federal legislation that would place a presumption of liability upon farmers or ranchers for pollution of public or private water supplies near agricultural operations.

5.         Nonpoint Source Management 

5.1.      Locally administered programs are better able to achieve the goals of the CWA. The CWA does not give EPA authority over nonpoint source pollution controls. This authority lies with individual states.

5.2.      Any watershed management plan should include among its goals and objectives the preservation of agricultural productivity and the livelihood of farm families in the watershed.

5.3.      We support:

5.3.1.   Nonpoint source programs that emphasize a voluntary, incentive-based approach;

5.3.2.   Federal assistance to administer a state-developed voluntary assurance program to assist farms and agricultural producers with conservation efforts;

5.3.3.   Efforts to address nonpoint runoff and improving water quality that target impaired watersheds using a "worst case first" approach;

5.3.4.   Federal funding levels adequate to develop site-specific information, technical assistance, cost-sharing for local programs, and upgrading septic systems;

5.3.5.   BMP or accepted agricultural practices that are developed locally with producer involvement and financially practical for landowners to voluntarily apply;

5.3.6.   Farmers and ranchers retaining the right to modify their nutrient management plans at any time based on changes in their farming/ranching operations;

5.3.7.   Research efforts to clarify the cause or causes of pfiesteria;

5.3.8.   States having the right to review 208 Plans (drainage districts) which are voluntary in their applications;

5.3.9.   The promotion of management practices to improve water quality should depend on what is challenging the integrity of the water body. Specific management practices should not be promoted over others as a guaranteed solution;

5.3.10. Grants and loans with reduced interest rates for nutrient management storage systems and related equipment;

5.3.11. Efforts to control the phosphorous content of runoff from all contributors;

5.3.12. A requirement that TMDL allocations be redone when science indicates that the existing allocations are incorrect;

5.3.13. State and federal regulatory agencies balancing wetland mitigation requirements with the need for optimized tile drainage for food, fiber and fuel production;

5.3.14. BMP or accepted agricultural practices as an alternative to numerical standards to more effectively address the point and nonpoint sources of pollution that greatly vary in a regional watershed;

5.3.15. That pollution permit trading in any reauthorization of the CWA as one approach to implement the act's requirements; and

5.3.16. The general guidelines of pollution permit trading but allow local entities to determine the management system which best fits its needs. These general guidelines should:

5.3.16.1.          Have a goal of water quality improvement;

5.3.16.2.          Set environmental goals and constraints that cannot be changed arbitrarily by any member of the system;

5.3.16.3.          Identify and establish a credible monitoring system which:

5.3.16.3.1.       Maintains a set of baseline data obtained on a case-by-case basis;

5.3.16.3.2.       Manages transactions; and

5.3.16.3.3.       Monitors environmental conditions and activities across permit traders;

5.3.16.4.          Allow farmers who achieve reductions beyond the permit's requirements to "bank" their reductions for future trading.

5.4.      We oppose:

5.4.1.   EPA efforts to gain greater regulatory authority by including nonpoint source pollution controls under the federal storm water discharge permit program;

5.4.2.   Any attempts by EPA to dictate specific practices and regulations to control nonpoint source pollution;

5.4.3.   Limits on agricultural cost programs;

5.4.4.   Altering approved nutrient management plans;

5.4.5.   Any enforceable mechanisms to address nonpoint source pollution. Enforceable programs should be developed and implemented by the states;

5.4.6.   Using regulations to address agricultural, nonpoint source issues related to TMDLs of pollutants in streams;

5.4.7.   Mandatory requirements to carry out the nonpoint source management programs;

5.4.8.   Mandated fencing of streams and riparian areas;

5.4.9.   EPA's efforts to revoke the administrative exemption for silviculture from the NPDES permitting process;

5.4.10. Mandatory financial assurance (bonding) for nutrient management facilities associated with AFOs or CAFOs;

5.4.11. Designating water flow from farm fields or drainage tile as point sources of pollution under the CWA;

5.4.12. The current CAFOs requirement to maintain a daily water inspection log;

5.4.13. CWA permits for the lawful use of pesticides;

5.4.14. EPA requiring NPDES permits on forest roads for timber harvesting; and

5.4.15. Federal regulation or control of runoff water into non-navigable streams.

6.         Gulf of Mexico Program 

6.1.      We support the right of states to develop a volunteer plan of action to address the agricultural nonpoint source portion of the EPA's Gulf of Mexico program. We believe the program's goals and objectives can best be administered at the local level through soil and water conservation organizations and farm groups.

6.2.      Any policies made regarding the Gulf of Mexico hypoxia area must be backed by sound scientific research and give proper consideration to impacts on agriculture production.

7.         Perchlorate 

7.1.      Landowners, producers or their lenders shall not be held liable for the cost of perchlorate cleanups caused by actions over which the producer, landowner or lender had no management oversight or control of decision-making.

7.2.      We support:

7.2.1.   Funding for research into the health risks and strategies for mitigating risks associated with perchlorate in water and food; and

7.2.2.   Using the best available science and appropriate risk assessment for the establishment of health goals or regulatory standards.

7.3.      We oppose any legislation or administrative decision that releases the federal government (i.e. the Department of Defense) and their contractors and subcontractors from liability associated with pollution of their land, crops or products by perchlorate.

8.         Lake Erie Basin 

8.1.      We support the formation of a multi-state task force to study the sources, causes and solutions for harmful algae blooms.

548 / Water Use

1.             Water is one of our most vital resources. We support the construction of water storage, funding of water conservation and efficiency programs, the streamlining of permitting of storage projects and state and federal cooperation in building multi-use water systems anywhere feasible consistent with state water laws.

2.         More attention should be given to the long-term effects of such plans, such as the advantage of building structures of sufficient strength to take care of likely future agricultural water needs.

3.         Coal Slurry Pipelines 

3.1.      Federal legislation dealing with coal slurry pipelines should:

3.1.1.   Respect state water laws and protect such laws from threats of nationalization under the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution;

3.1.2.   Respect state laws concerning property rights and eminent domain procedures;

3.1.3.   Require payments to owners for damages to their property; and

3.1.4.   Provide that a state that has a water compact with another state shall receive credit for the amount of water that is transported to the other state in a coal slurry pipeline and ensure:

3.1.4.1.            That the use and appropriation of water for all interstate coal slurry pipelines, not just those that use the right of federal eminent domain, be made pursuant to the law of the state where the diversion takes place;

3.1.4.2.            That if a state denies a water permit or exercises conditions on such a permit or authorization, up to and including termination, this exercise will not be prohibited as an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce;

3.1.4.3.            That federal reserved water can only be used in a coal slurry pipeline if state law is fully complied with; and

3.1.4.4.            That nothing in the law shall alter in any way any provision of state law or interstate compact.

4.         International Water Agreements 

4.1.      We support:

4.1.1.   Reasonable agreements and cost participation with Mexico and Canada;

4.1.2.   The efforts of Texas and the United States government to uphold and enforce the 1944 water treaty between the U.S. and Mexico;

4.1.3.   Efforts to ensure that water delivery to the Rio Grande River and allocations are strictly honored by the U.S. and Mexico as stipulated by the 1944 treaty;

4.1.4.   Federal and state programs designed to alleviate hardships to Texas agribusiness as a result of Mexico's treaty non-compliance, including actual production history crop insurance; 

4.1.5.   Financing of improvements to water delivery systems along the Rio Grande River; and

4.1.6.   Renewal of the Columbia River Treaty with Canada in such a manner as to maintain its original focus upon flood control and power generation.

5.         Reclamation Projects 

5.1.      We support:

5.1.1.   Enabling legislation authorizing navigation projects that include the use of water for agricultural irrigation and other purposes;

5.1.2.   Users of water from new developments paying their fair share of the development cost of the facilities that make the water available;

5.1.3.   Placing appropriate values on flood control, conservation, power, recreational and environmental benefits;

5.1.4.   Infrastructure costs and repayment reflecting the share of benefits received;

5.1.5.   Provisions, wherever feasible, for an irrigation district, or other instrumentality to assume repayment and administrative responsibility for all or portions of the project before a reclamation project is constructed;

5.1.6.   The transfer of ownership and administrative responsibility for reclamation and other projects from the federal government to a local, state or interstate agency upon its assumption of repayment obligations. The cost of assuring safety for federal dams should be borne by the federal government;

5.1.7.   Elimination of the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and transferring custody of western water and power projects to the appropriate project users and water master responsibilities to the states;

5.1.8.   Using Hydroelectric dams to their full potential to produce power rather than limiting their use to regulate the downstream flow for environmental or recreational purposes;

5.1.9.   A plan that would allow water districts that receive their water through the BOR to "bank" their unused water;

5.1.10. Sufficient duration for future contracts to allow farmers to secure long-term capital or financing; and

5.1.11. BOR continuing its role regardless of changes in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, including regulations stated in Waters of the United States (WOTUS). 

5.2.      We oppose:

5.2.1.   The change of focus of the BOR from development of water resources to regulation enforcement and recreation enhancement;

5.2.2.   The renaming of water storage projects by the BOR and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) with the intent to weaken the importance of "lakes" behind federally-regulated dams by calling them "reservoirs";

5.2.3.   The destruction of federally regulated dams for purported environmental reasons; and

5.2.4.   Any efforts to amend reclamation laws that would negatively affect the priority of water allocation for agricultural use.

6.         Reserved Water Doctrine 

6.1.      The importance of the present and future water yield from public lands to the economy of all states is clear.

6.2.      Legislation is needed to dispel uncertainty that the implied reservation doctrine produced.

6.3.      We support legislation that requires federal agencies to:

6.3.1.   Comply with state laws relating to the use of water and to respect private rights to use water established under state law;

6.3.2.   Provide that water flowing from reserved lands and other federal lands shall be subject to state authority; and

6.3.3.   File with the appropriate state agency their present use of water in the state and provide access to the courts for landowners to determine if federal claims are reasonable.

6.4.      We oppose reserved water rights on federal lands except through filing with the state for a right in accordance with state law.

7.         Rural Water Systems 

7.1.      We support:

7.1.1.   The concept of rural water systems organized and operated in accordance with accepted principles and practices;

7.1.2.   Steps by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in cooperation with state agencies to safeguard water quality, while at the same time, encouraging EPA not to initiate costly and unnecessary regulations, which could only drive up the cost of rural water; and

7.1.3.   Funding for rural water and sewers, including projects in unincorporated service areas, through the rural development program of USDA.

8.         Underground Water 

8.1.      We support:

8.1.1.   State laws that strive for the protection, development and administration of groundwater to protect the rights of overlying landowners;

8.1.2.   Prohibition of nuclear waste repositories that endanger underground water aquifers;

8.1.3.   Continuing research on groundwater recharge and on making more efficient use of our water resources. Such research should be designed to develop a conservation program with emphasis on individual, local and state participation;

8.1.4.   All reasonable management efforts being made to prevent contaminants from entering groundwater; and

8.1.5.   Subject to state water law, allowing veto authority to a state whose groundwater is diminished in cases of interstate artificial withdrawal or transport of groundwater.

8.2.      We oppose:

8.2.1.   Federal intervention and controls in underground water matters;

8.2.2.   Taking underground water in the form of hot water and steam from overlying owners by classifying water as a mineral; and

8.2.3.   Groundwater projects that affect another state's water unless up-to-date empirical studies clearly show that water can be withdrawn and exported without adverse effects on said state's agriculture and sovereign lands.

9.         Water Diversion 

9.1.      We favor multistate compacts to provide for the use of water between states.

9.2.      We support:

9.2.1.   States being allowed to divert from rivers and streams that amount of water said state is entitled to pursuant to rights, compacts or decrees; and

9.2.2.   International surface water transfer programs that would ensure the interests of American agriculture.

9.3.      We oppose:

9.3.1.   Any move to break the Colorado River Compact or any other river compact;

9.3.2.   The diversion or sale of water from the Great Lakes Basin;

9.3.3.   Recreational in-channel diversions if they:

9.3.3.1.            Do not promote multiple uses of water;

9.3.3.2.            Are used as growth and development controls which lowers property values in non-growth areas;

9.3.3.3.            Restrict flood control projects and promote stream bank erosion by excessive amounts of water flowing for longer periods of time;

9.3.3.4.            Erode the value of water for water rights owners by restricting where and how much of their water can be diverted from streams;

9.3.3.5.            Are not limited to the minimum amount needed for a limited amount of time for the specific purpose for which the application is being made;

9.3.3.6.            Are not limited to the amount of water under control of the applicant and limited to the place where control structures exist; and

9.3.3.7.            Recreational in-channel diversion or instream flows if they are granted; however, they should not supersede agricultural, municipal or industrial use.

10.       Water Planning 

10.1.    We support:

10.1.1. Planning of water use on a multiple purpose watershed basis, including multipurpose small hydroelectric dam projects when feasible;

10.1.2. Interstate compacts on interstate streams;

10.1.3. For federal-state river commissions:

10.1.3.1.          Designation of a majority of the members by the affected states and a requirement that each state representative should be a resident of the basin;

10.1.3.2.          Approval of all projects fully within a member state by appropriate authority within the state before final approval by the commission; and

10.1.3.3.          Creation of a "basin account" to collect revenues from related projects to finance further development;

10.1.4. Audits by the General Accounting Office of all "benefit-cost" reports required by Congress as a condition for approval of federal projects and all affected property owners have an opportunity to submit appropriate data for consideration; and

10.1.5. Consideration of broad geographic areas and needs, including equitable valuation of intangible benefits in "benefit-cost" analyses in future water planning;

11.       Water Resource Development 

11.1.    We support:

11.1.1. Federal funding of producer incentives for water conservation, including construction, repair, and maintenance of impoundments, farm ponds, streams, waterways and drought mitigation measures;

11.1.2. Development of procedures at the state and federal levels to encourage increased utilization of surface water for irrigation purposes including irrigation reservoir systems;

11.1.3. Desalination of brackish, saline and seawater;

11.1.4. Continuation of availability of water supplies for agricultural or other cultural practices at least equal to the historical use;

11.1.5. More realistic values for public benefits and recreation being applied to water projects;

11.1.6. Public hearings in the vicinity of any proposed reservoir, dam or other water storage project;

11.1.7. Cooperation between federal, individual, local and state interests in water development projects;

11.1.8. Compensation to nonfederal projects for the benefits that are non-reimbursable in federal projects;

11.1.9. Efforts to obtain funds to develop power generation from geothermal resources and to encourage private industry to develop and operate water and energy recovery facilities;

11.1.10.           Assumption of responsibility by the Corps for protection of affected farmland on all flood control and navigation projects and for major capital items to repair levees and associated systems on major rivers;

11.1.11.           Cooperation among appropriate agencies in keeping rivers and reservoirs at levels that will not cause serious seep water damage;

11.1.12.           The continuation of federal agency efforts to make the stream channel improvements essential to critical water conservation in the arid Southwest; and

11.1.13.           The federal government providing for erosion control created by dams and locks.

11.2.    We oppose:

11.2.1. The abandonment of cost-effective water projects that have been approved for years by Congress and previous administrations;

11.2.2. Landowners being required to bear the added cost of seepage where it occurs from higher levels;

11.2.3. Any plan to drain or change the designation or scope of man-made lakes or reservoirs providing much needed electricity, irrigation, navigation and municipal water; and

11.2.4. Release of water not in accord with agricultural water demands, hydroelectric power generation and/or flood control criteria.

12.       Water Rights 

12.1.    We support:

12.1.1. The present system of appropriation of water rights through state law and oppose any federal domination or pre-emption of state water law or resource distribution formulas;

12.1.2. Water rights as property rights that cannot be taken without compensation and due process of law;

12.1.3. Voluntary conservation of water use by updating irrigation systems. Increases in irrigated acres (water spread acres) due to redesigning or remodeling irrigation systems or development of areas within a recorded water right, should not be excluded from irrigation;

12.1.4. The concept that privately held consumptive water rights should take precedence over low instream flows;

12.1.5. Equal funding to defend water rights against parties receiving government money;

12.1.6. Resolution of tribal water claims through negotiated water settlements with participation of all parties having an interest in the affected water;

12.1.7. A study being requested by local government before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) instigates action on sole source aquifers; and

12.1.8. A state’s exclusive authority to issue water right encroachment permits on waters within the state.

12.2.    We urge Congress to pass laws to correct the injustice of breaking legal agreements and decrees made to farmers, such as water rights in the name of protecting endangered species and other resources.

12.3.    We oppose:

12.3.1. Any use of the Public Trust Doctrine as a legal basis for deciding water rights issues;

12.3.2. Water being considered an article in commerce; and

12.3.3. Any instream-flow legislation unless it is based strictly on additional upstream storage.

12.4.    We further recommend legislation to:

12.4.1. Compensate any landowner whose water rights, established prior to the 1963 California-Arizona decision, suffered damage;

12.4.2. Exempt all irrigation ditches constructed before 1976 from permits and fees;

12.4.3. Require all federal agencies or commissions to comply with applicable state laws and prohibit the requirement of permits on existing ditches on federal lands;

12.4.4. Provide just compensation if a federal project adversely affects a private right established under state law;

12.4.5. Provide that the federal government can be enjoined in court suits pertaining to the adjudication of water;

12.4.6. Make federal administrative decisions subject to review by the courts;

12.4.7. Prohibit the BOR, or any other local, state or federal, governmental agency or Nongovernmental Organizations from securing water rights for fish and wildlife projects, or transportation by the eminent domain process;

12.4.8. Prevent water contracts from being unilaterally altered prior to their expiration;

12.4.9. Eliminate the acreage limitation set by the U.S. government for irrigation projects; and

12.4.10.           Provide a reasonable period of negotiations for the contract renewal process.

12.5.    Congress should develop a system for reparations, in consideration of past errors or omissions that relate to waters being given to the states, to individuals, state governments and to other parties.

12.6.    Congress should exempt water from any interstate commerce regulations or laws. Congress should act to affirm each state's dominion over the waters within its boundaries.

12.7.    In case of potential conflicting claims, a state's surface water general adjudication process should be allowed to settle those conflicts.

12.8.    Claims should not be settled with groundwater, and any surface water should be acquired from willing sellers with the federal government bearing all costs. The settlements shall consider historic water-use decrees. The settlements must contain language to protect the water rights of the communities affected. The federal government should bear all the monetary costs of both parties of any settlement and/or litigation.

13.       Watershed Programs 

13.1.    We support:

13.1.1. Consideration of the potentially detrimental effect of any high rise dam on the local community and county;

13.1.2. Inclusion of both upstream flood prevention treatment and downstream protective measures in flood damage programs;

13.1.3. The Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act, as amended;

13.1.4. Positive action by the secretary of agriculture to review criteria now used for economic evaluation in determining the feasibility of small watershed structures;

13.1.5. Reasonable state participation in funding watershed protection and flood control;

13.1.6. A landowner's ability to clean and clear waterways on their property in times of disaster;

13.1.7. Diligence by sponsors of watershed projects in promoting full understanding, within the project area, of all physical, technical and financial aspects of the proposed project;

13.1.8. Federal funding be appropriated under the P.L. 83-566 program to fund one-half the cost of providing water for any requirements for low-flow augmentation in small watershed impoundment structures and federal funding for upgrading and maintaining existing PL566 structures expeditiously as possible;

13.1.9. Reducing matching fund levels, and allowing for in-kind contributions from local entities, to maintain state and federal dams; and

13.1.10.           Rescission of water project authorizations no longer needed because of the development of watershed programs.

13.2.    We oppose:

13.2.1. Stopping stream channel improvement, an appropriate part of many watershed programs, by unrealistic demands by recreation, fish and wildlife interests;

13.2.2. Language in Natural Valley Storage Projects flowage easements unless it is modified to clearly provide for farming and the construction of agriculturally required facilities within the easement area; and

13.2.3. The Federal Government changing the historic priorities and uses of water storage reservoirs.

549 / Waterways

1.             Public policy should encourage expansion of inland water transportation since it represents the most energy-efficient mode.

2.         Such public policy should include encouragement of a high degree of cooperation among all modes of transportation to provide the adaptability of equipment that will allow rapid and inexpensive exchange from one mode to the other. This must also include encouragement of multimodal rates and elimination of any discriminatory rate-making.

3.         The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) or any federal or state agencies should pursue alternative means to address endangered species concerns such as establishment of voluntary critical habitats.

4.         Action should be taken to repair and maintain locks and dams on waterways for present and future commercial traffic.

5.         Well-maintained levees are essential not only because they allow some of our most productive land to be utilized in farm production, but also to prevent the ravages of flooding from destroying roads, bridges, railroads, homes and businesses. When levees are destroyed by extraordinary rainfall, it can cause severe economic hardship to farmers, rural businesses and entire rural communities.

6.         Federal and state government agencies should be committed to assisting with the timely repair and maintenance of levees on the main rivers and their tributaries. After a disaster occurs, repairs should be made in "emergency" mode. Those levees that are purposely destroyed by the Corps should be fully restored prior to the next normal high water season.

7.         If the federal government's river management results in flooding, the Corps should be financially responsible for damages resulting from Corps managed projects.

8.         We recommend the following actions to ease the flood burden:

8.1.      Nonfederal, non-qualifying levees should be allowed the opportunity to enter into the Corps' cost-share program;

8.2.      Adequate funds should be made available to all appropriate agencies to assist in the repair of levees on the main rivers and their tributaries and to assist in sand and debris removal and to provide voluntary nonlevee alternatives such as emergency wetlands reserve programs;

8.3.      Wetlands, endangered species and other environmental restrictions should be modified to allow a common sense approach to the removal of trees and brush, the use of river dredges and location of borrow areas to repair damaged levees;

8.4.      The federal government and the Corps should repair, maintain and upgrade the upper levee systems to the same standards as the lower Mississippi flood control district to guarantee the continuation of commerce on the navigable waters of rivers affected by flood damage and the continued protection of personal property by the levee system;

8.5.      A uniform federal floodplain standard (also adopted by the states) allowing a one-foot rise in floodwater height for flood protection projects on major rivers and other bodies of water bordering two or more adjoining states;

8.6.      The cleaning of all floodways by the International Boundary and Water Commission, to include those inside the wildlife corridor, to permit maximum movement of flood water in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, Colorado and New Mexico; and

8.7.      Landowners should be compensated for all lost property value if damaged levees along any navigable waterway under the jurisdiction of the Corps are not repaired.

9.         Landowners should have the opportunity to bid their land into the Emergency Wetlands Reserve Program or use private funds to repair their levees.

10.       We are concerned about the Corps' proposal to release large amounts of water from the Gavins Point Dam.

11.       Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) should return to its original goals of flood control, electric production and navigation. TVA should give its highest priority to agricultural operations within a floodplain when establishing water level fluctuation plans.

12.       We support:

12.1.    Educating the general public in regards to the economic importance of the Mississippi River and other waterways used in transporting agricultural commodities and farm inputs;

12.2.    Reauthorization of the Inland Waterway Trust Fund;

12.3.    Legislation to permit utilization of water from river navigation projects for agricultural purposes;

12.4.    Prioritizing the Corps' funds for updating locks and dams and cleaning of channels in the Mississippi River system to accommodate new, larger barges and navigate low water levels;

12.5.    User fees and fuel taxes received from barge operators on the Mississippi River being used only for repair, upkeep and improvements to the Mississippi lock and dam system;

12.6.    Increasing the operation and maintenance budget to maintain navigation, recreation and flood control;

12.7.    Representation on the Mississippi River Commission to include at least one member from the Upper Mississippi River area;

12.8.    Lengthening to 1200 feet the locks on the Mississippi River at least below Keokuk and below Peoria on the Illinois River;

12.9.    A Midwestern, multistate effort to review results of existing river and related studies and identify impacts of associated state and federal regulations. Based on that review, we will support a comprehensive plan for the Upper Mississippi River and its navigable tributaries that serves agriculture, industry, transportation, recreation, and the environment developed by the Corps using the risk-informed decision framework in the analysis of the benefit cost ratio;

12.10.  Maintaining channel depth of 45 feet on the lower Columbia River from the port of Portland to the Pacific Ocean. This would ensure year-round and timely shipping and allow the new Panamax class of ships to call on all ports on the lower Columbia;

12.11.  A mutually acceptable revision to the Missouri River Master Water Control Manual that protects against proposals that would regulate the river's flow to the detriment of waterway navigation and/or its flood control system;

12.12.  Requiring government agencies to send notification about new streambank initiatives to landowners whose property is adjacent to and may be impacted by those initiatives;

12.13.  Using hydrology studies and other pertinent information developed within the Comprehensive Plan to expedite the permitting process for flood control projects within the scope of the Plan. A timeline should be developed to establish target beginning and completion dates for each project within the Comprehensive Plan to help move those projects along in a more efficient and timely manner;

12.14.  Efforts to change state and federal regulations so that drainage and levee districts may restore a levee to its highest approved flood frequency design and/or profile without being limited by water level mitigation requirements;

12.15.  Securing federal and state funds for major capital items to repair levees and associated systems on major rivers. Money appropriated for projects should be used by that project. Routine maintenance and capital items should continue to be the responsibility of the local districts;

12.16.  A review of the cost effectiveness of the National Levee Safety Program Act of 2007 and support eliminating the duplication of levee inspections with resulting cost savings used for levee improvements;

12.17.  Encouraging the Mississippi River Commission to use its authority to promote improvements to navigation, economic development, flood control, recreation, and environment within the upper and lower Mississippi River basin;

12.18.  Efforts to remove silt from rivers and to allow the use of that material behind the levee for strengthening the levee system; 

12.19.  Encouraging members of Congress to become actively involved in the Mississippi River Congressional Caucus;

12.20.  The Maritime Administration’s Marine Highway Program and designation of Marine Highway corridors on major waterways including the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers;

12.21.  Federal funding of Marine Highway grants to promote economic growth and enhance the efficiency of our surface transportation system; and

12.22.  Additional funds being allocated to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), and funds which have been diverted be spent for their intended purposes. We support 100 percent of the monies paid into the HMTF being spent for the maintenance projects of all harbors and channels.

13.       We oppose:

13.1.    Any plans by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or any federal or state agencies that would alter the flow levels of the Missouri or any river and would adversely affect domestic water supplies, drainage, irrigation and transportation, that would cause traffic bottlenecks on the Missouri or any navigable river and take private property without compensation;

13.2.    The dumping or designed erosion of soil into waterways; and

13.3.    EPA using the guidance document which would effectively remove the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act.

550 / Wetlands

1.             Definition/Regulation 

1.1.      All wetlands are not equal in value. Wetlands need to be classified as to their importance. Those lands that have little or no significant environmental value should not have the same restrictions for development activities as true wetlands.

1.2.      Isolated wetlands (vernal pools, etc.) not connected to navigable waterways should not be subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

1.3.      Wetlands should be defined as a naturally occurring area of predominantly hydric soils that presently support hydrophytic vegetation because of existing wetland hydrology. Supporting definitions should be:

1.3.1.   A hydric soil is a soil that in its natural state is saturated, flooded or ponded long enough during the active growing season to have predominant anaerobic conditions at the surface;

1.3.2.   Hydrophytic vegetation means a predominance of obligate wetland plants and facultative wetland plants; and

1.3.3.   Predominance is defined as at least 66.67 percent of the land having those characteristics.

1.4.      We support:

1.4.1.   Wetland protection programs that emphasize economic incentives;

1.4.2.   Cooperative efforts on wetland and related lands issues and will work with water, wildlife and other agricultural groups to achieve acceptable solutions and mutual benefits. All efforts and programs must rely upon voluntary and willing participants;

1.4.3.   Farmer and rancher representation on any appointed wetland study commission;

1.4.4.   A workable nationwide permit program that does not restrict or burden agricultural operations and practices;

1.4.5.   A general or nationwide permit for the construction of agricultural, forestry and wildlife ponds in non-tidal wetlands;

1.4.6.   All future easements being limited to no more than 50 years and contain frontloaded buy-out options if so desired by the landowner;

1.4.7.   Requiring mosquito abatement and management plans on government owned lands used for wetlands or riparian areas;

1.4.8.   Landowners being allowed to use scientific data provided by independent consultants and/or a governmental agency to prove that their land should not be designated a wetland;

1.4.9.   Non-tidal wetland regulations focusing on protecting true marshes, bogs and swamps. Prior-converted lands and wetlands created incidentally by wildlife or any man-made structures, facilities, irrigation or drainage activities and the production of wetland-dependent commodities should not be subject to regulation;

1.4.10. Land with a cropping history of six out of 10 years being exempt from wetland regulation;

1.4.11. Farmers with farmed wetlands, with ditches or tile running through them, having the option to improve their drainage;

1.4.12. The enactment of legislation to address the following wetland concerns that include but are not limited to the following:

1.4.12.1.          All prior-converted cropland and farmed wetlands should be excluded permanently from jurisdiction;

1.4.12.2.          Wetlands determinations and delineations should be made on site whenever requested by the landowners and done within 30 days;

1.4.12.3.          Unsolicited determinations of wetlands by Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) should be considered invalid;

1.4.12.4.          Abandonment when an error has been made in the original determination of a wetland because of a lack of knowledge based on the scope and ability of the existing drainage system;

1.4.12.5.          Sunsetting of wetlands determinations and delineations should be discontinued and reclassification should only occur at the landowner's request;

1.4.12.6.          The growing season for wetlands by definition should not be lengthened. A new definition of growing season for wetlands should be adopted for arid states. Currently, the growing season in many states is the entire year; and

1.4.12.7.          County conservation districts should be the sole agencies to regulate the building of ponds;

1.4.13. A public comment period be provided when any changes are proposed in the guidelines and definitions for delineating wetlands;

1.4.14. A mapping program—as a prerequisite to regulation—which accurately identifies land which has a predominance of hydric soils, hydrophytic vegetation and standing water; has been subject to the review of locally affected landowners and operators; and has a standard interpretation from the state NRCS office that insures equality across county lines; and

1.4.15. A prohibition from using “invasive tree species’ and “trees not native to a specific area” as “native trees” to designate prior converted (PC) crop acres as abandoned under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

1.5.      When a reservoir is built to store surface water, wetlands should be allowed to be contained inside these impoundments.

1.6.      The definition of cropland for wetland determinations and delineations should include permanent pasture and hay fields. They should not have to be in rotation.

1.7.      We oppose using site specific radar generated rainfall data in determining normal, wet and dry years in regards to wetland determination methods.

1.8.      We oppose a national goal of no-net-loss of wetlands.

1.9.      We will oppose the delineation of these areas as linear wetlands:

1.9.1.   Man-made drainage ditches;

1.9.2.   Fence lines; and

1.9.3.   Either existing waterways or land previously used for natural drainage.

2.         Legislation 

2.1.      We support:

2.1.1.   Counting all years as “under cultivation” where PC crop acres are idle following a prescriptive procedure to allow salt or other harmful compounds to leach out of soil. Those idled years under a prescriptive recovery period would not count toward “abandonment” under the EPA Clean Water Act – Section 404;

2.1.2.   Amendments to federal wetland legislation to narrowing the currently broad scope of wetlands protected;

2.1.3.   Keeping private farm ponds from coming under federal regulation under the CWA;

2.1.4.   The scope of wetlands regulation being limited to wetland areas that are 10 or more acres in size;

2.1.5.   Congress to reviewing the scope and intent of wetlands protection programs and their impact on normal farming and ranching practices;

2.1.6.   All land farmed and/or where conversion was commenced prior to December 23, 1985 being considered prior-converted and exempted from further regulation. No agency should recapture these lands as wetlands if they are fallowed for a period of five or more years;

2.1.7.   More local control for wetland identification and management;

2.1.8.   Continuation of the normal farming and silviculture exemption in Section 404 of the CWA being a condition for state assumption of 404 enforcement responsibilities;

2.1.9.   Exemption from the regulations affecting drainage for normal repair and maintenance of agricultural waterways, drainage structures and tile lines and protection of private land against erosion;

2.1.10. A general permit being developed under Section 404 for agricultural land-clearing activities;

2.1.11. An appeals process being established to expedite a solution for those instances when agreement cannot be reached on the Section 404 permit requirements;

2.1.12. Legislation to remove normal farming operations, including aquaculture activities on prior-converted and farmed wetlands, from the jurisdiction of the regulations based on Section 404 of the CWA. A realistic definition of normal farming operations and wetlands should be established for use in administering the provisions of this act;

2.1.13. Federal legislation that would exempt agricultural irrigation reservoir construction, on privately owned wetlands, from wetlands regulation and mitigation, provided it would reduce demand on, and preserve and protect the quantity, and quality of underground water supplies;

2.1.14. The wetlands of the Prairie Pothole region of the country being regulated on an equal basis with all other wetlands. All regions of the country should use the same wetland hydrology criteria;

2.1.15. A penalty for knowingly making a false report of a wetland violation and for the name of the individual or entity that made the complaint to be made public; and

2.1.16. Wetland delineation requested through an AD 1026 should be made in a timely fashion.

2.2.      We oppose:

2.2.1.   Inclusion of the term wetlands in the definition of Navigable Waters of the United States, and we further oppose giving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) final authority in matters of wetlands determination; and

2.2.2.   NRCS personnel having to report, for prosecution, any potential violation of wetland regulations on agricultural land. Landowners should not be required to accept off-site delineations by any government agency. We believe the burden of proof that a wetland exists rest with the government agency making the determination.

3.         Mitigation and Easements 

3.1.      Agricultural production must be valued in wetland mitigation calculations when determining wetland mitigation credits and wetland mitigation credits must be severely reduced for converting agricultural acreage into wetland mitigation when the acreage has a recent history of agricultural production.

3.2.      We support USDA allowing functional credit units of wetland restoration to be applied towards acres in the wetland mitigation process.

3.3.      Wetland mitigation changes that would permit and promote the use of degraded wetland acres in the coastal zone to be used as the source of land for wetland mitigation instead of taking agricultural land out of production for wetland mitigation.

3.4.      Wetland protection, enhancement, restoration and maintenance projects should never require mitigation.

3.5.      Wetland mitigation should only be required where convincing, adverse environmental damage to wetland function can be documented.

3.6.      We request that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and other agencies carefully evaluate and notify the wetland mitigation bank(s) and nearby landowners to any potential drainage issues where mitigation banks are being established if the mitigation bank changes long-established drainage outlets.

3.7.      We support changes in rules, regulations, and/or legislation to require that wetland mitigation banks must provide a sufficient drainage pathway for upstream farm acres to drain when internal drainage is removed downstream during the process of establishing wetland mitigation.

3.8.      We support an increase in wetland mitigation credits for land in agricultural crop production that provide wetland benefits such as waterfowl habitat on rice acreage so agricultural lands can remain in crop production and receive wetland mitigation credits for providing wetland benefits on farm land. 

3.9.      We oppose the expropriation or excavation of crop land for mitigation by the Corps for the use of levee construction or other uses when alternatives to use land not currently in production exists.

3.10.    We support:

3.10.1. FWS reducing the purchase of wetlands and the prohibition of purchasing drained farmland;

3.10.2. Greater transparency of the mitigation efforts of the Corps, FWS and other federal agencies along our waterways;

3.10.3. FWS being required to pay for future irrigation and drainage district assessments if it acquires land within such districts. Any land acquired by the FWS and converted to a wetland within these districts should not interfere with their normal operations. If mitigation is required, no more than one acre should be required to be mitigated per acre converted. Landowners should be given the opportunity to mitigate wetland conversions on the basis of the functional value of the wetlands converted if such mitigation is more practical or economical than acre-for-acre mitigation;

3.10.4. The concept of a voluntary wetland banking program with priority being given to lands currently enrolled in the Wetland Reserve Program, rather than removing additional farmland from production;

3.10.5. Changing federal wetland mitigation policy to prevent further loss of agriculture acreage in counties that still retain 80 percent or greater of their pre-settlement wetlands; and

3.10.6. Education programs which seek to inform landowners of the benefits of wetlands and to urge voluntary conservation of wetland areas.

3.11.    We oppose the transfer of any interest in property by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to FWS or any other agency.

4.         Property Rights and Compensation 

4.1.      We support:

4.1.1.   The adoption of a satisfactory delineation of wetlands which identifies both values and functions and which also recognizes private property rights. All information gathered in a producer's wetland determination and delineation should be kept confidential and not subject to the Freedom of Information Act;

4.1.2.   The identification, protection and enhancement of quality wetlands and encourage voluntary efforts to achieve wetlands restoration if private property rights are protected and economic growth is enhanced;

4.1.3.   Federal policy requiring that the owners, operators and/or authorized representatives of land being considered for wetland designation be notified and consulted before any classification determination and requiring onsite inspection; 

4.1.4.   A system of checks and balances being established to ensure reasonable and consistent interpretations of the laws concerning wetlands. 

4.1.5.   A requirement that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers send notification to FSA and NRCS of any change in land classification. FSA and NRCS must forward notification of land classification changes to the landowner and producer in a timely fashion;

4.1.6.   A timely and inexpensive appeals process for landowners to appeal wetlands delineations and permit denials. The appeals process should also allow for judicial review; 

4.1.7.   Government agencies' authority in designating wetlands and requiring mitigation for altered wetlands being sharply curtailed to protect private property rights. The denial of a wetland dredge-and-fill permit constitutes a taking of property for which just compensation to the landowner shall be provided; 

4.1.8.   Modification of agency guidelines to allow for a mitigation program of wetlands where modern agriculture practices are being planned; and

4.1.9.   Landowners and farmers being able to remove tree stumps from their land without having to get approval from NRCS, the Soil and Water Conservation District, FSA or the Army Corps of Engineers.

4.2.      We oppose:

4.2.1.   Federal jurisdictional control being imposed on farmers without just compensation for loss of productive development or sale potential, as provided in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Compensation for the lost use of privately owned land due to wetlands delineation is a top priority. Compensation to landowners for reduction in property values should be itemized and taken from the budget of the respective federal agency; and

4.2.2.   Mitigation being required for the construction of artificial wetlands or water impoundments.

551 / Wild and Scenic Rivers

1.             We are opposed to proposals which would prevent the economic development of a stretch of river which has potential resource value; necessitate the taking of scenic easements or fee title to privately owned land by eminent domain; or unnecessarily involve federal responsibility for a river which is being adequately managed by a state. We oppose adding more rivers and adjoining land to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System and urge re-evaluation of all existing wild and scenic rivers. We believe that land acquired by the federal government to preserve scenic riverways should be returned to the original owners.

2.         A Wild and Scenic River suitability assessment should not be a requirement of the Department of Agriculture (U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Forest Plans and the Department of the Interior (all areas, including the Bureau of Land Management Management Plans).

3.         Wild and scenic river advisory committees should be organized in each scenic river area, and a majority of the committee should be made up of local adjoining landowners. Such a committee should be sought for advice in management of the river.

4.         Any land designated for wild rivers should be subject to local zoning ordinances.

5.         Before a river is designated as a wild or scenic river, a comprehensive study, as mandated by law, should be completed on the exact segment of river that has been proposed.

6.         Effective control of noxious or invasive alien species in compliance with state and county laws must be a part of every plan for management of wild and scenic rivers. No legal weed control practice may be excluded for such environmental protection.

WILDLIFE / ENDANGERED SPECIES 

565 / Endangered and Threatened Species

1.             Human need for food, fiber, shelter and energy shall have priority over the protection of endangered and threatened species.

2.         We believe that endangered and threatened species protection can be more effectively achieved by providing incentives to private landowners and public land users rather than by imposing land use restrictions and penalties.

3.         The Endangered Species Act (ESA) should not be reauthorized in its current form. The current federal ESA must be amended and updated to accommodate the needs of both endangered and threatened species and humans with complete respect for private property rights within the framework of the United States Constitution.

4.         We support:

4.1.      An ecosystem management approach that considers the overall interrelated effects of management on all species of that system and is limited to the historical habitat area of the species based on historical and scientific data;

4.2.      A voluntary program administered by the Department of Interior to enter contracts with private landowners to maximize and enhance habitat through technical assistance and other incentives. Contracts should run five years, provided a continuing need exists;

4.3.      Compensation to landowners for all damages to or loss of the use of their property including grazing allotments and water rights resulting from implementation of any provision of the ESA regarding private property including grazing allotments and water rights;

4.4.      Listings based on endangerment instead of on rarity, using sound, peer-reviewed science and reliable confirmation of the genetics that is readily available to landowners and their representatives and which considers all populations of a species, including those in other countries;

4.5.      The burden of proof for listing being on the petitioner or the Agency and not on the general public;

4.6.      Involvement by affected landowners in any ESA listing;

4.7.      The posting of a bond equal to three times the damages by any petitioner for listing or any party seeking the injunction that would adversely affect private property interests;

4.8.      Strict liability by the federal government for injury or damages to persons or property arising out of the reintroduction or re-establishment of any listed species;

4.9.      Civil and criminal penalties for unauthorized introduction of a listed species to thwart farming, development or recreational land uses with purposeful and harmful intent;

4.10.    The right of landowners to protect person and property from listed predators and wildlife;

4.11.    Research and development of commercial propagation of nonpredatory, listed species for purposes of introduction into the wild and eventual delisting; We recommend that commercially propagated native and non-native hoofstock be exempt from endangered or threatened species rules cited in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species;

4.12.    Habitat Conservation Plans that:

4.12.1. Are voluntary with landowners;

4.12.2. Do not include private property without the consent of the landowner;

4.12.3. Impose no additional requirements if new species are listed or the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) fails;

4.12.4. Assure that landowners acting in accordance with an HCP shall not be found in violation of the ESA or other environmental laws;

4.12.5. Contain no buffers for HCP reserves; and

4.12.6. Provide indemnification for adjacent landowners if listed species migrate onto their property;

4.13.    Recovery plans for all listed species based on verifiable, biological, scientific and economic principles, with recovery goals and costs and economic impacts established at the time of listing for all listed species and which first implement all alternative habitat adjustments before adversely impacting private property;

4.14.    Economic impact analyses for all ESA actions;

4.15.    Hatchery fish and wild fish of the same species being treated the same for listing and delisting purposes;

4.16.    Implementation and enforcement of the ESA being consolidated in one agency;

4.17.    Development and implementation of exemptions or waivers under the ESA for agricultural lands for development of critical water supplies resources;

4.18.    A report every five years tied to statutory review by the Department of Interior that reports the public and private costs of recovery including land purchases, cost of land restrictions on property owners and public land leasees;

4.19.    State management of species introduced onto lands within a state or for which the state already has a management program in place, if the state chooses to do so;

4.20.    Automatic de-listing after five years if no recovery efforts have been initiated;

4.21.    Extending judicial review to all 90-day petition findings under the ESA;

4.22.    Biological opinions being made available for public comment;

4.23.    Withdrawal of lands designated as critical habitat if the species has not been sighted for two years;

4.24.    Equal consideration to petitions for delisting and listing;

4.25.    The right of any state to reject any proposed or existing critical habitat designation, recovery plan or introduction/reintroduction of any species;

4.26.    The recognition of species that are considered threatened versus endangered to be a factor in determining the feasibility of development projects both public and private;

4.27.    The grizzly bear and wolf being removed from the Federal Endangered Species list and management of the grizzly bear and wolf being under the supervision of the state where they exist;

4.28.    Legislation that would direct the Secretary of the Interior to reissue the final rule that was published on December 28, 2011 (76 Fed. Reg. 81666 et seq) delisting the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of gray wolf, without regard to any other provisions or statute or regulation that applies to the issuance of such rule and not subject to judicial review;

4.29.    The authority of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) being limited to the oceans;

4.30.    If lethal action is taken against any threatened or endangered species for the preservation of public safety, all investigations should be conducted by the local officials of the county involved. All applicable state and government agencies are to be notified so as to provide assistance when called upon; 

4.31.    Private sector rearing and releasing of sage grouse; 

4.32.    The Marine Mammal Protection Act should not apply to fresh water; and

4.33.    Public hearings being conducted in the area that will be affected by the introduction or protection of the endangered species.

5.         We oppose:

5.1.      Listing additional endangered and threatened species or the designation of additional critical habitat until the ESA is amended;

5.2.      Using the ESA as a means to implement policies that restrict proper chemical use on our farms and ranches;

5.3.      Using the ESA as a means to implement climate change policies;

5.4.      Listing any species that has been controlled as a pest or invasive species;

5.5.      Biological surveys being conducted on private lands without consent from the landowner;

5.6.      Listing of hybrid species;

5.7.      The recognition of unoccupied species habitat as a reason for halting or delaying a project;

5.8.      Label restrictions on essential agricultural pesticides for protection of listed species when the restrictions will jeopardize agricultural production. Prior to labeling actual scientific evidence must indicate presence at levels toxic to listed species inhabiting the area;

5.9.      The introduction or reintroduction of listed species onto public or private lands;

5.10.    Recovery of court costs and attorney fees for plaintiffs filing lawsuits on behalf of listed species;

5.11.    Any interruption of federal permits due to Section 7 consultation;

5.12.    Section 7 consultation without affected landowners being given an opportunity to participate;

5.13.    The National Marine Fisheries Service sinking rope rule for Maine lobstermen for the Right Whale protection for the area eastward of Stonington, Maine; 

5.14.    The listing of any species with the majority of its range located outside of the United States;

5.15.    Listings of threatened and endangered species due to a pest or disease, unless it can be proven scientifically the listing will slow the loss of the species and affected industries will not be economically harmed; 

5.16.    The ESA being applied to federal insurance programs, such as the National Flood Insurance Program and crop insurance programs. The ESA should be amended to expressly not apply to federal insurance programs and those programs should be made non-discretionary for purposes of the ESA; and

5.17.    The relocation or release into the wild of wolves or grizzly bears that have been raised in captivity.

566 / Salmon Recovery

1.             The federal government must recognize the profound impact ocean conditions have on the species and address these impacts.

2.         Additional research must be undertaken to create a better understanding of what happens to the species once it leaves its inland habitat and lives in the ocean. Before any new regulations are proposed, the federal government should assess all of the existing protection already in place and ensure that these regulations are being fully implemented. Voluntary public and private conservation measures should be utilized.

3.         We support the following salmon recovery alternatives:

3.1.      Physically modify the dams, if found necessary, rather than tearing them down or lowering water levels;

3.2.      Improve barging such as net barge transportation;

3.3.      Privatize salmon fisheries for stronger fish;

3.4.      Control predators of salmon like squaw fish, seals, etc.;

3.5.      Utilize a new fish-friendly turbine developed by the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratories having three goals:

3.5.1.   Increase power production;

3.5.2.   Reduce hazards to fish during passage through turbines to reduce fish kill; and

3.5.3.   Provide economic operation;

3.6.      Operate the Brannen bypass system as an option to facilitate salmon recovery and support continued study of the Kevlar tube and other bypass systems; and

3.7.      Regulate harvest of offshore and instream fish.

4.         We oppose: 

4.1.      Removal of any publicly owned dam; and

4.2.      The Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project.

567 / Wildlife Management

1.             In most states wildlife utilizes private lands for habitat and landowners should be compensated for damage. We favor quantification of game animals as an essential step in determining the contribution private landowners are making to public recreation. In addition, there is an increased need to safeguard farmers and ranchers from crop and livestock damage caused by game animals, migratory fowl, certain species of birds and predatory animals. The spread of noxious weeds from game preserves is a problem in some areas.

2.         Many species of wildlife and migratory birds feed on private property with no recourse available to the property owner.

3.         We believe that essential services to local landowners and the general public should be more important than the protection of wildlife as the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) develops stipulations to a public works project through its management plan.

4.         FWS should follow applicable federal laws and presidential orders that support local government and citizen involvement in management planning and/or the execution of management plans.

5.         We support:

5.1.      Compensation to farmers and ranchers for damages caused by wildlife;

5.2.      Farmers having the right to protect their crops and livestock from destruction by wildlife and migratory birds, on both private and public lands;

5.3.      The retention of wild game ownership by the various states;

5.4.      The privileges of citizens to continue to hunt, trap and fish in accordance with state game management regulations;

5.5.      The sale of wildlife proven to be taken under crop damage permits, including but not limited to snow geese, deer and Canada geese;

5.6.      Adjusting hunting seasons in certain areas to help control damage caused by wildlife and migratory birds;

5.7.      The establishment of a USDA regional wildlife services unit in the Northeast;

5.8.      Placing the crop and livestock damage permit process for migratory birds under the control of the state government rather than the FWS. The process should be made easier for farmers trying to obtain permits;

5.9.      Increased bag limits for geese and no closed season for resident geese. We recommend nuisance goose permits be issued in sufficient quantities to control the rising number of geese;

5.10.    Legislation banning harassment of legally licensed hunters by animal rights activists groups and individuals;

5.11.    Removal of resident Canada geese, black vultures and cormorants from protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act;

5.12.    A requirement that FWS plant acreage in all national wildlife refuges to crops suitable for feed for wildlife and pay damages to landowners in adjacent areas;

5.13.    A policy that treats wildlife on an equal basis with other grazing privileges;

5.14.    State and federal governments obtaining approval of the governing body of any county before they release any species into the environment;

5.15.    Amending the National Wildlife Refuge Administration Act and the ESA to require the FWS not to inhibit; the normal development of public works projects (such as road construction);

5.16.    The issuance of depredation orders to wildlife officers;

5.17.    The elimination of permit fees for federal crop and livestock depredation permits;

5.18.    Removal of the black vulture (Mexican Buzzard) from protected status;

5.19.    Requiring wildlife authorities to post baited fields as “Baited”;

5.20.    Wildlife management areas complying with the original intent of the Taylor Grazing Act;

5.21.    That all wolf carcasses be presented for testing of communicable diseases and the human Hydatid disease be returned to the Centers for Disease Control reportable disease list;

5.22.    A requirement for the USDA to reimburse any livestock owner whose livestock are infected with Hydatid disease; and

5.23.    A streamlined process for permits to take nuisance animals.

6.         We oppose:

6.1.      FWS releasing wildlife onto private property without permission of the landowner;

6.2.      The order requiring openings in net wire fences for game animal access;

6.3.      Any legislation to ban the use of leg-hold traps;

6.4.      A surtax on hiking, biking and camping equipment to finance a wildlife diversity fund;

6.5.      The formation of wildlife corridors;

6.6.      The introduction of predator animals as a wildlife control tool;

6.7.      Holding farmers liable for application of approved pesticides or pesticide restrictions for wildlife or migratory birds on private lands;

6.8.      FWS acquiring land;

6.9.      Importing non-native wildlife for release in non-containment situations;

6.10.    Federal funding for the creation of a wildlife preserve solely for wolves; and

6.11.    The use of federal funds, including the farm bill, to create programs that pay landowners for public hunting or recreational activity access.