The Senate Agriculture Committee voted Tuesday to advance a bill that would overturn duplicative and onerous new permitting requirements for pesticide applications.
The bill, H.R. 872, will 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.The bill was approved by the House of Representatives in late March.
A January 2009 Sixth Circuit Court decision said pesticide discharge is a point source of pollution subject to additional regulation under the Clean Water Act, necessitating the new permits.
The decision has been stayed twice to allow time for government agencies to implement it. It is now set to go into effect in October, though most departments at the federal and local levels remain unprepared for the massive paperwork boondoggle it will cause.
The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated the ruling will affect approximately 365,000 pesticide applicators that perform 5.6 million pesticide applications annually.
If a legislative solution is not achieved when the new requirement goes into effect, farmers running afoul of it could be subject to fines of up to $37,500 per day.
“We are happy to see the Senate taking action on this important legislation,” said Wayne Hurst, NAWG president and a wheat producer from the Burley, Idaho, area, in a NAWG press release following Senate Ag’s vote.
“Wheat farmers work hard to comply with the extensive processes in place to ensure the products we use on our farms are safe. New requirements added by the Sixth Circuit Court would only create paperwork for us and government officials without adding any additional measure of safety for the public. We urge quick completion of this bill.”
H.R. 872 has achieved widespread bipartisan and bicameral support from Congressional leaders concerned about increasing regulation without environmental benefit and burdening government officials and farmers with new and complicated requirements in a time of tighter budgets.
NAWG staff and grower leaders have worked extensively over the last year to educate Members and their staffs about the problems presented by the Sixth Circuit decision and to help formulate a lasting solution.
For more about this issue, please visit www.wheatworld.org/environmentalregulation.