Water issues also will be critical, Ferrell said.                                                             

“Ammonia may be the next great regulatory frontier. Currently, 80 percent of ammonium emissions come from agriculture. Those emissions can form particulates that may be deposited on water.” That could put ammonium under regulations of the Clean Water Act.

Ferrell said Oklahoma faces “a lot of tough decisions on how to allocate water resources,” during a five-year process to develop a water plan. Infrastructure upgrades will be part of the discussion, he said.

“We need more robust state funding for infrastructure. We also need to look at best water use. Is it better to use it or leave it in place?”  Ferrell said current water use policy that reduces allocation if the allocation is not all used encourages use.

He said better monitoring will be necessary to improve both water quantity and quality.

Landowner liability for hazardous waste clean-up also deserves attention, Ferrell said. He cautioned anyone buying property to be aware of any hazardous material problems before buying.

“Before buying property do an environmental audit,” he suggested.  “Conducting an environmental audit can provide a landowner with very important defenses if pollution is later discovered on the property, but the audit must be done before the purchase.  You can’t do that after you buy it.”

Ferrell, both an agricultural economist and an attorney by training, said farmers may wonder if dealing with the EPA will bring “production restraints or business as usual. Will we have constraints on what we can do on the land?” he asked.

Acquiring as much information as possible about the regulatory process is an important step, as is monitoring regulations, he said.

“Also, unplug emotion from the process. Step back and see where you stand.”