With the changes in Congress as a result of last November’s elections and groundwork already being laid for the 2012 presidential race, the next two years are going to be “extremely challenging” in terms of environmental issues, says Andy Whittington, Mississippi Farm Bureau (MFB) environmental specialist.

“A lot of people are drafting papers and pushing the president to circumvent Congress and use executive orders to enact changes in pesticide regulations, the Clean Water Act, nutrient use and runoff, and other environmental programs,” he said at the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting.

“We’re going to be watching all of this very closely to try and prevent more stringent rules from being passed,” Whittington says.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and other organizations are concerned that the Clean Water Restoration Act would significantly expand the government’s jurisdiction, with a negative impact on farmers and local governments and economies.

Terming the act “regulatory overkill,” AFBF maintains that by replacing the terminology “navigable water” with “interstate waters,” it would give the government control over farming activities in fields adjacent to regulated waters, which could include even drainage ditches.

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