A proposal last week by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) greatly expands the definition of waters regulated by the federal government and could slow conservation efforts of Iowa’s farmers, Iowa Farm Bureau environmental policy advisor Rick Robinson said last week.

The EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jointly released the proposed rule "to clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands," the agencies said last week.

The EPA proclaimed the proposal preserves Clean Water Act exemptions and exclusions for agriculture, but the 371-page rule contains a number of troubling terms that provide considerable leeway for the agencies to exercise permitting authority over farmland, said Robinson.

Adding to confusion

"It adds to the confusion about whether farmers will need a federal permit to install certain...