Rural America and agriculture applaud Sackett decision

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May 26, 2023 — Shortly after SCOTUS issued its ruling in the Sackett v. EPA case, press releases and statements poured out from interests throughout the country.  Among them were statements from the agriculture sector.  AgDaily characterized the decision as a “welcome relief to agOpens in a new tab.,” noting that with conflicting definitions of what constitutes “Waters of the US,” the decision adopts of the 2006 Waters of the United States rule, narrowing the reach of federal protection of clean waters.

AgDailyOpens in a new tab. reported on the reaction of various groups within the agricultural industry:

“Cattle producers across the country can breathe a sigh of relief today. Since EPA’s adoption of the “significant nexus” test, cattle producers have had to retain costly legal services to determine if water features on their property are federally jurisdictional,” said Todd Wilkinson, South Dakota cattle producer and President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Today’s Supreme Court opinion refocuses the Clean Water Act on protecting our water resource through regulatory clarity. We look forward to working with the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as they implement the Court’s new Continuous Surface Connection standard.”

“The Fertilizer Institute welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett v. EPA. The decision, which strikes down the “significant nexus” test in determining what is considered a Waters of the United States, is a win for agriculture. While regulatory interpretation from the EPA will take time, the SCOTUS decision is a great first step in providing the clarity that the fertilizer industry needs for long-term planning and capital investments that will allow us to continue providing the critical nutrients that feed the crops that feed our communities.”

The American Farm BureauOpens in a new tab. stated:

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented today on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Sackett v. EPA.

“AFBF appreciates the Supreme Court justices for their careful consideration of the implications of Sackett v. EPA. The EPA clearly overstepped its authority under the Clean Water Act by restricting private property owners from developing their land despite being far from the nearest navigable water.

“The justices respect private property rights. It’s now time for the Biden administration to do the same and rewrite the Waters of the United States Rule. Farmers and ranchers share the goal of protecting the resources they’re entrusted with, but they deserve a rule that provides clarity and doesn’t require a team of attorneys to properly care for their land.”

Via AgWired, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association full statement applauded the decision:

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is one of many agricultural organizations thrilled with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday against EPA’s controversial Waters of the United States or WOTUS rule.

The court ruled unanimously in favor of the Sackett family in Sackett v. EPA, soundly rejecting the contentious “significant nexus” test.

NCBA submitted an amicus brief in the Sackett case, encouraging elimination of the Significant Nexus test in exchange for a more practical standard. “In its brief to the Court, NCBA highlighted the unconstitutionality of imposing criminal penalties for violations of vague standards under the Clean Water Act. The Court recognized and reversed the Significant Nexus test, in part due to the constitutional due process risk that it created,” said Mary-Thomas Hart, Chief Counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

NCBA has been heavily involved in litigation surrounding the WOTUS rule since 2015. NCBA filed suit against the Obama-era WOTUS definition, defended the Trump-era definition that brought more clarity to what water features are included under WOTUS, and filed suit against the Biden administration’s WOTUS rule that did not include critical agricultural exemptions.

Other agricultural organizationsOpens in a new tab. who issued favorable statements about the Sackett decision include the National Association of Wheat Growers and the National Pork Producers Council.

Rep. Dusty Johnson of South DakotaOpens in a new tab. wrote:

Today,U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) issued a statement following the Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) affecting the Biden Administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Sacketts, protecting farmers, ranchers, small businesses, and rural communities across South Dakota and America.

“For years, WOTUS has been used as a political football for Administrations to advance their climate agenda and it’s caused uncertainty and stress for farmers and ranchers,” said Johnson. “Today’s SCOTUS ruling on Sackett v. EPA is a huge win for rural America. Navigable waters cannot include every small puddle, stream, and ditch. I’m glad our agricultural producers will finally have some certainty. I’ll continue working with my colleagues in Congress to prevent the Biden Administration from placing overly burdensome regulations on our producers.”





Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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