Rep. Southerland Stands with Farm Families

Rep. Southerland Stands with Farm Families

We hear a lot of commentary these days about Congressional gridlock. But members of Florida’s Congressional delegation are willing to take action in support of our farm families.

U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland is an example. He has sponsored major legislation that will rein in a bold move by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to increase its regulatory power, potentially jeopardizing many agricultural operations in our state.

Southerland’s bill, H.R. 5078, restricts the EPA’s authority to the limits intended by Congress when it originally adopted the Clean Water Act four decades ago.

The agency has recently proposed a major revision of the act with an administrative document identified as the “Waters of the United States rule.” It gives EPA staff members sole discretion in determining whether a “significant nexus” exists between navigable waters and dry land.

Despite EPA denials, the proposal would empower the agency to control activities on farm land, golf courses, private water utility parcels, recreational acreage and other private property it has never previously regulated.

In effect, the proposed rule would be a national zoning measure.

H.R. 5078, filed as the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, is a bipartisan bill that will block the EPA in its aggressive quest for more power.

A public event has been planned to promote this legislation on Aug. 18. Rep. Southerland, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Florida business leaders, representatives of farm organizations and others will hold a press conference on the steps of the Old Capitol in Tallahassee, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

I hope that many friends of Florida agriculture will be on hand to express their support for this important legislation.

We appreciate Rep. Southerland’s fine efforts on behalf of the bill.

We also want to thank other members of the Florida delegation for co-sponsoring it: Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Rep. Dan Webster, Rep. Vern Buchanan, Rep. Jeff Miller, Rep. Richard Nugent, Rep. Dennis Ross, Rep. Tom Rooney and Rep. David Jolly. We expect more to join in this campaign.

The elected leaders who have endorsed H.R. 5078 have provided excellent leadership at a crucial time. They have reaffirmed their commitment to protecting family farms and ranches from unconstitutional intrusion.

I am proud of Rep. Steve Southerland’s service as a champion of this issue for our state and its people.