The House Agriculture Committee approved by a voice vote on Wednesday a bill that would prevent the need for additional permitting prior to pesticide applications.
The bill would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act to clarify Congressional intent and eliminate the requirement for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for applications of pesticides approved for use under FIFRA.
This requirement has emanated from a ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court, issued in January 2009, which said pesticide discharge is a point source of pollution subject to additional regulation under the Clean Water Act.
The decision is set to go into effect on April 9 following a two-year stay intended to allow local and federal government agencies to set up processes to implement it, though most remain unprepared. Once implemented, farmers not in compliance with the new requirements could be subject to fines of up to $37,500 per day.
The bill passed by House Agriculture has attracted widespread support from Members concerned about the duplicative nature of the new permitting requirements and about the severe financial and logistical burdens implementing the requirements would exact on regulatory agencies.
It will next be considered by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which shares jurisdiction on the issue. This could happen as early as next week.
NAWG has been working for a number of months to seek a legislative solution to this problem, most recently to gather cosponsors for the pending bill. Thus far, 64 House Members have signed on as cosponsors, and an agriculture coalition is seeking approximately 85 more.
NAWG and other farm groups are also talking with Senate Agriculture Committee leaders about the path for legislation in that chamber.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and other Members of the Committee met this week with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson on this and other issues.
NAWG encourages wheat growers to continue to contact their Representatives who have not yet signed on as cosponsors of the new legislation and urge support.
Documents being used by NAWG and when discussing this issue are available online at www.wheatworld.org/environmentalregulation.