IL ag opposing wetlands legislation

Many Illinois groups are pushing back against proposed legislation that would greatly expand the definition of a wetland in the state.

Kevin Johnson, president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA), tells Brownfield if passed the Wetlands Protection Act would include any kind of standing water…

“And that could be an inch deep and a foot across.”  He says, “You could call it a wetland. A lot of this would go through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  The fines could be up to $10,000 a day.”

He says the changes could prevent farmers from improving drainage and adopting conservation practices. 

“This is not just an agriculture issue.”  He says, “This is anybody that owns land, construction, and this is all came from the Supreme Court case and Waters of the U.S. and that talk about navigable waters.”

Johnson says sponsor of Senate Bill 771, Senator Laura Ellman, has been open to discussions. 

“I hope that they come to some kind of agreement.”  He says, “I don’t know if we can get to an agreement, but how the bill is written right now, I don’t think anybody in agriculture, business, or construction can live with that bill.”

The bill passed out of committee and awaits action in the full Senate.  Johnson says IFCA and other ag groups are encouraging farmers to reach out to their state legislators to have conversations about how it could impact farming.

“And there was a wide group that is very much opposed to this.”  He says, “You have our group, you have the Farm Bureau, the commodity groups, the Illinois Realtors Association, Illinois Asphalt Association. And then you actually had some unions come in and say, we got a lot of questions about this bill.”

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