Why the Farm Bill matters to PMPs

By |  May 9, 2018

Why should pest management professionals (PMPs) care about the 2018 Farm Bill? If enacted as currently written, the Farm Bill would reinforce the exclusive authority of states to regulate the sale and use of pesticides.

You may think Congress already intends for states to regulate the sale, distribution and use of pesticides. However, local courts have given “political subdivisions” the authority to impose restrictions without scientific assessment, economic analysis, considering property owners’ rights to control pests, or regard for public health agencies’ responsibility to control disease vectors, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) says.

Therefore, Congress should support legislation in the Farm Bill that codifies the exclusive responsibility of states, not political subdivisions, to regulate the sale, distribution and use of pesticides in their states. The U.S. House of Representatives may vote on the proposed Farm Bill as early as next week (May 14). The current Farm Bill expires Sept. 30.

The NPMA is working with the pesticide industry to urge passage with pesticide regulatory reform provisions contained in Title IX of the Farm Bill.

The proposed Farm Bill includes language initiated by the NPMA, in conjunction with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). The proposed Farm Bill states:

(3) CONDITION ON MORE RESTRICTIVE REGULATION.—Section 24(a) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C. 136v(a)) is amended by striking ‘‘A State may’’ and inserting ‘‘A State, but not a political subdivision of a State, may.’’ (Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, Page 556).

The Farm Bill also includes NPMA Legislative Day initiatives on Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act/Endangered Species Act of 1973 (FIFRA/ESA) reform and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.

The NPMA says those who work in the pest management industry should contact their state representatives and explain why the country’s pesticide laws and regulations must be fixed to ensure the protection of people and property. The NPMA asks PMPs to urge their state representative to pass the Farm Bill and help them understand that not passing the Farm Bill will hamper your ability to provide pest management services, and jeopardize the health of the constituents in their districts.

It’s worth noting that the Farm Bill does not prevent a state lead agency from determining how pesticides are used within a state. It also does not interfere with public property managers’ decisions to safely use pest management tools — as authorized by state and federal regulations — in, on and around the public properties they own or manage.

The NPMA offers the following reasons for asking state representatives to support the Farm Bill.

  • Arbitrarily drawn borders in political subdivisions cannot contain pests that transmit deadly diseases like Zika virus, dengue fever, West Nile virus and Lyme disease. The absence of pest control enables dangerous pests to breed and spread disease. Restricting the use of pesticide in one locality jeopardizes the health of people in that location as well as in surrounding areas.
  • State lead agencies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are the only entities with statutorily mandated expertise and resources to make scientifically informed decisions about pesticide use. Uninformed and arbitrary local standards should not dictate pesticide registration and use. As co-regulators, the EPA and state lead agencies carry out comprehensive scientific assessments that ensure transparency, credibility and effectively balance risks and benefits.
  • Localities lack the resources and expertise to effectively regulate pesticides. Localities with little or no budgets for pesticide reviews cannot replicate the EPA or state agencies’ high standards of expertise, effective regulation, resources and safety.
  • Congress intended for the EPA and state lead agencies to work cooperatively as co-regulators to ensure uniform and effective regulation of the sale, distribution and use of pesticides. To promote public health and reduce consumer confusion, it is necessary to clarify the cooperative relationship between federal and state regulators.
  • It is better to have one set of pesticide regulations in each state, instead of different standards in each of the more than 89,000 cities and owns in the United States. The lack of uniformity reduces business climate certainty and increases consumer costs, but does not improve human health or the environment.
  • Protection of health and property becomes problematic for PMPs. That’s because a PMP may be able to use a certain product in one town but not the next town on his route, due to a localized ban on the pesticide the product contains.
  • Local governments that regulate pesticides threaten the protection of public health and property and prevent homeowners, businesses and farmers the ability to effectively and affordably manage pests. Frequently, officials who do not understand the pest problems enact the regulations; they legislate on fear, not science.

The NPMA makes it easy for you to encourage your state representative to support the proposed Farm Bill. You can send an automatic message to your representative.

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