Many of the things farmers do on a daily basis to produce food and maintain their land come under strict environmental oversight.
NAWG works on a variety of environmental issues to ensure policymakers have accurate information and to advocate for laws and regulations that are appropriate for agricultural operations.
In early 2009, the Sixth Circuit Court concluded in the case of National Cotton Council of America v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that pesticide discharge is a point source of pollution subject to additional regulation under the Clean Water Act (CWA), meaning producers would need additional permitting for every crop protection application.
The Supreme Court declined to take the case on appeal, so the Sixth Circuit’s ruling stands as law despite being duplicative of existing regulation and fraught with unintended complications. EPA estimates the ruling will affect approximately 365,000 pesticide applicators that perform 5.6 million pesticide applications annually.
NAWG and other agricultural groups strongly support a legislative fix to this problem. NAWG supports S. 175 in the 113th Congress and was an active supporter of similar legislation in the 112th Congress, H.R. 872. That measure was passed by the full House and the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee in 2011.
Chesapeake Bay Program
NAWG and other agriculture organizations strongly support a proposal from Reps. Tim Holden (D-Penn.) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) known as the Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization and Improvement Act (H.R. 4153 in the 112th Congress).
This bill would restructure on-going efforts to restore the Chesapeake by setting up an independent advisory committee to review past Chesapeake Bay initiatives; establishing a nutrient management plan that considers load allocations on a monthly, seasonal or annual basis, versus on a daily basis; and allowing for a “safe harbor” provision for farmers who undertake voluntary conservation efforts in good faith.
The Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule requires regulated facilities to develop and implement plans to help prevent oil discharges from reaching navigable waters. SPCC regulations were first issued in 1974, but did not touch agriculture until 2002.
Farms in operation before Aug. 16, 2002, need SPCC plans in place now, while those started after Aug. 16, 2002, have until May 10, 2013, to develop and implement their plans.
NAWG and other groups have been working on this issue in a coalition environment for a number of years to educate EPA officials about the nature of agricultural operations and to outline actions EPA should take in the process of applying the SPCC rule to farms.
NAWG also supports the FUELS Act, H.R. 3158, which would clarify requirements facing farmers under the SPCC rule. More about that proposal is in this news story.
More information from farmers on SPCC compliance is available from EPA here.