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AgCenter officials urge rice farmers to attend EPA hearing on water use

News Release Distributed 06/26/14

CROWLEY, La. – An LSU AgCenter official urged the Louisiana Rice Growers Association Board of Directors to make comments at a listening session of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency aimed at receiving input for a proposed set of regulations that would revise the Clean Water Act.

Ernest Girouard, coordinator of the Louisiana Master Farmer Program, told board members at a June 18 meeting the listening session will be held July 9 at the Acadia Parish Extension Office at 157 Cherokee Drive, at 11:30 a.m.

Girouard said EPA representatives want to receive input from farmers on the impact regulations would have on their operations. “They’ve really made it clear they are here to listen,” he said.

Steve Linscombe, director of the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station, said it’s significant that the EPA came to the agricultural industry to have the meeting to get comments. “We need to have a good turnout at this meeting,” he said.

Linscombe said a weak attendance could be interpreted by the EPA as a lack of concern by farmers.

“At least we’ve got to make them aware of our concerns,” he said.

Agricultural organizations have contended the changes would impose Clean Water Act standards to ditches and low areas of land that are occasionally flooded.

Girouard said the EPA contends that normal agricultural practices would be exempt from the regulations, but more than farmers would be affected by the proposal. Even homeowners could be subject to the new regulations, he said.

Also at the meeting, the board elected new officers to two-year terms, choosing Jeffrey Sylvester as president, Michael Fruge as vice president and Jim Watkins for treasurer.

Bruce Schultz

Last Updated: 6/26/2014 2:26:01 PM

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