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CWA, 404 & WOTUS: Navigating Wetlands Issues in Agriculture

For more than 40 years the nation has used section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) as the federal regulatory program to protect wetlands. However, the relationship between the statute and agriculture is perhaps more uncertain than at any time in the past.  As a result, there is an enhanced potential for federal scrutiny and potentially enforcement of activities the farmer perceives as normal business.  Further, a general understanding of the CWA is becoming another of the myriad of skills that a successful farmer or rancher and their attorneys must have access to. This presentation will address the history of the CWA regulatory methods as well as practical aspects of how to navigate the CWA wetlands regulatory program. It will also provide an update of the current status of 404(f) and the federal courts, including the recent United States Supreme Court decision in Hawkes v. United States Army Corps of Engineers and the WOTUS final rule.

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The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Agriculture Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and membership funding. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the content are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, please visit extension.org. You can view the terms of useat extension.org/terms.

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