Lincoln wasn’t through shaking the tree, pointing to the EPA’s involvement with watershed monitoring and farm visits. “Recently, I’ve heard an uptick of farmers voicing concerns about the EPA coming onto their farms to inspect poultry operations. … What efforts has the EPA made to reach out to farmers regarding compliance?”

When her agency employees drive onto a farm, it is Jackson’s “hope and intentionthat (farm owners) will have a clear understanding of what EPA’s compliance visits are meant to achieve. … There is no mystery around compliance visits. Compliance visits don’t assume nor presume nor do they necessarily result in any kind of enforcement action. They’re a visit intended to help farmers understand what their compliance obligations are under law.

“We’ve had successful models in several watersheds … where we were very clear we’d conduct these visits. We try not to surprise people and give them information ahead of time so they understand why we’re there. But we also acknowledge that working with state officials is a good way to get information out to the community.”

Lincoln: “I wouldn’t say you haven’t tried. The key here is the uncertainty … about what kind of fines, repercussions and consequences they can suffer from that visit. It’s enormous and I don’t hear (from farmers) that they’re getting information.

“I realize you may think of this as just a ‘visit’ but, to be honest, it isn’t pleasurable for (farmers) to go through not knowing what the consequences could be, particularly in these economic times. I’ve seen some outrageous fines and circumstances when you get a lot of people who normally sit behind a computer … coming out to the farm and seeing things for the first time. That’s enormously alarming to farmers.”