"Home rule is needed more than ever in Kansas," according to Harold Walker, president of Kansas National Farmers Organization, at a state meeting, in Garden Plain.

Delegates at the state meeting passed a resolution which stated that livestock access to existing surface water supplies on farms and ranches should take into consideration the natural habitats that the livestock need in their access to drinking water."

This is a two-part issue, said Walker. First, the newly talked about Environmental Protection Agency regulations should allow livestock access to the natural habitats on farms and ranches. Policy makers, especially in regard to the new proposed EPA standards, are encouraged to consider these natural farm and ranch habitats on a local basis.

As it stands now, it is possible that proposed EPA guidelines may cause ranchers with farm ponds to have to limit or control access by their livestock to water, in the farm ponds, if these ponds don't meet with water regulations.

It is unreasonable for the EPA to ask that farm ponds be fenced to prevent the natural access of livestock, said Walker. "It basically is a local issue, very much like the home rule issue, where local citizens and farmers want to have input into large confined livestock operations and their locations."

Home rule was one of the issues hotly debated in last year's Kansas legislative session. Proponents, including the Bipartisan Family Farm Legislative Coalition, advocated for local control and input when large corporate livestock operations considered locating in a community. Current state laws do not allow for local citizen control of these operations and their locations, so this issue has become a focal point for rural debate.

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