Farmers, who for years have overcome challenges from bad weather and bad markets, should not also have to overcome the overreach of government regulation, outgoing American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Pres­ident Bob Stallman said last week. "Bad government should not be the straw that breaks us," Stallman told delegates and others attending the organization’s 2016 annual convention in Orlando.

Stallman, who earlier an­­nounced that he would not run for re-election, said agriculture saw one of the worst examples of over-regulation in 2015 with the implementation of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The implementation of the WOTUS rule has been temporarily stopped by court actions, but Congressional efforts to stop it permanently haven’t yet succeeded.

"When rainwater running ac­­ross a farm field is all it takes to allow federal agencies to tell you that you cannot use your land, that is government regulation run amok," he said.

The EPA’s use of aggressive campaign-style tactics to build support for WOTUS was also a perversion of how public servants are supposed to serve the American people, said Stallman, a Texas rice farmer and rancher.

Chesapeake Bay

Another prime example of government overreach is the EPA’s so-called "blueprint" for land use across the 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Stallman said. "Think about that, EPA claims it can micromanage land use across large swaths of the countryside."

The EPA plans to use its Chesapeake Bay plan all over the United States, including the vast Mississippi Valley, Stallman warned.

"You know, if we’re going to let the federal government dictate where we can and cannot farm — or cut trees, or build homes or otherwise use the land for any productive, economic activity — then this is not the Land of Liberty. It is not the country that our forefathers envisioned — nor is it a country that will be able to feed itself for very long," Stallman said.

Stallman urged Farm Bureau members to work together to overcome the government’s overregulation. "I believe that Farm Bureau can and will continue to defend our ability to work the land for future generations."