New Mexico’s food producers deserve certainty

Uncertainty is a daily obstacle in agriculture.  Between fluctuating markets and the whims of Mother Nature, our nation’s farmers and ranchers are constantly buffeted by forces they have no control over.  Now a judge in Arizona, acting outside the recommendations of the Environmental Protection Agency, has made food production infinitely more unpredictable.

In deciding Pasqua Yaqui Tribe v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, federal judge Rosemary Marquez vacated the current Navigable Waters Protection Rule.  This rule established clear boundaries between waters that were under federal jurisdiction and those that were controlled by private landowners.

The current NWPR creates certainty and predictability that farmers and ranchers need when working their private lands. Previous to the NWPR, food producers were operating under the 2015 Waters of the US Rule which gave governmental agencies jurisdiction over non-navigable and mostly dry features such as playas and arroyos.

Now that the NWPR has been vacated, farmers and ranchers will have to return to a confusing and overreaching WOTUS rule where landowners are forced to consult with federal agencies before managing their property, further diminishing private property rights.  NMF&LB asks that the EPA create clearly defined regulations that eliminate confusion.

Food producers face enough challenges without their productivity being impaired by regulations that are overly burdensome. Returning to a system of federal permitting before plowing, planting or fence building would require tens of thousands of dollars in additional costs, which is beyond the means of our state’s farm and ranch families. Let’s keep food production local by adhering to reasonable regulations meant to conserve our precious resources while preserving our farm and ranch heritage.