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Trump starts process to rescind Waters of US rule, earns kudos from farmers

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Conservatives and farmers around the country and in Missouri celebrated President Donald Trump’s signing of an executive order Tuesday asking the Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider the controversial Waters of the United States rule.

The rule was recommended under former President Barack Obama’s administration to the displeasure of agricultural and business interests who felt it stifled property rights through its wide breadth. Though Trump’s order is just a reconsideration, it will effectively kill the rule change, especially with Scott Pruitt, a vocal opponent of the rule, now chairing the EPA.

The prospect of a repeal is good news to State Rep. Jay Houghton, the chairman of the House Agricultural Policy Committee.

“It removes some of the proposed burdensome regulations to farmers,” Houghton said. “If they want to say they can regulate any mud puddle on your property, it’s a concern to anybody… [Waters of the US] would have given too much control to the EPA and the Corps, and oftentimes, they’re the ones overreaching into agricultural land.”

The Missouri Farm Bureau opposed the rule when it was just a proposition in 2014, with a music video and a visual display at the Missouri State Fair to show more than 99 percent of Missouri’s land would be impacted by the rule change.

“Missouri Farm Bureau is pleased with the executive action taken by President Trump which marks the beginning of the end of the Waters of the U.S. rule,” Blake Hurst (pictured), the president of the organization, said in a statement. “The repeal of the rule shows the strength of the grassroots and the importance of people belonging to organizations where one voice can make a difference.”

Attorney General Josh Hawley also celebrated the repeal. The previous tenant of the office, Chris Koster, joined a lawsuit with 12 other states against the federal government in June 2015 to fight the rule change.

“President Trump’s directive comes as a major victory for those of us who have fought this federal overreach onto our states’ farms and ranches,” Hawley said in a statement. “I commend the president for his action on Tuesday and I look forward to the full repeal of this illegal rule.”