The House passed H.R. 872 by a 292 to 130 vote on Thursday, signaling strong support for removal of duplicative new permitting requirements related to pesticide applications.
When signed into law, the legislation will amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act to clarify Congressional intent and eliminate the need 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 this year following a two-year stay intended to allow local and federal government agencies to set up processes to implement it, though most remain unprepared. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated the ruling will affect approximately 5.6 million pesticide applications annually.
Once implemented, farmers found not to be compliance with the new and vague requirements could be subject to fines of up to $37,500 per day – enough to put most out of business quickly.
The bill passed Thursday has achieved widespread bipartisan support from Members of Congress concerned about increasing regulation that will lead to no environmental gain and about the immense cost implementing the new permitting rules would entail for federal and state agencies and pesticide users, including farmers.
“A permanent solution to this extra regulatory burden is needed as soon as possible to give our growers certainty on what rules they must follow this production season,” said Wayne Hurst, NAWG president, in a NAWG press release following passage of the bill.
“Wheat growers and other agricultural producers are committed to continuing to protect our land, air and water, but we need to know the rules of the road and deserve to have regulation that is understandable and streamlined.”
NAWG staff has been working closely with agricultural groups and other coalition partners for a number of months to seek a legislative solution to this new regulatory burden, and will continue working with coalition partners and agriculture leaders in the Senate as legislation is considered in that chamber.
For more about this issue, please visit www.wheatworld.org/environmentalregulation.