We’re in this together has become the rallying cry for 2020 as we’ve all found ourselves in a situation we could not have imagined, but one in which our industry is playing an essential role. In my first months as RISE president, I’ve been proud (though not at all surprised) by the industry’s partnership and desire to serve as the COVID-19 situation has evolved.
While most state legislatures suspended their 2020 sessions or convened only to respond to resource needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had a busy first quarter. We expect work to resume on many of our priority bills later this year.
The association’s primary legislative focus has been a bill in Colorado that would roll back state preemption, granting express authority to counties, cities and towns to regulate all pesticide use within their borders. A multi-stakeholder coalition has been working on the bill, and is focused on creating greater understanding about the importance of state-level regulation and uniformity for pesticides and their many applications. (Editor’s Note: For more information about preemption laws, please read: The importance of maintaining pesticide preemption laws)
EPA FORMULATION LIST
On the regulatory front, necessity has advanced one of our long-standing priorities with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency published a List of Commodity Inert Ingredients for pesticide formulations in March, in response to the increased global need for disinfectants to fight the coronavirus.
We’ve been supporting publication of the list with partner associations for about nine years, with the goal of achieving flexibility in sourcing the commodity inert ingredients in case of supply chain disruptions or significantly increased demand. In the list, the common food ingredients used in baits and other pest control products can be sourced from different suppliers to ensure professional products remain available, even when there are supply chain pressures. We aren’t experiencing any pressures currently, but it’s very positive to have greater flexibility with a commodity inert ingredients list.
Out of necessity, we also had to postpone our annual regulatory conference, which usually is held during the last week of April. The conference is an important opportunity to discuss contemporary regulatory and scientific issues with the EPA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, industry, applicator partners and trade media. We are looking at new dates this summer, and remain hopeful we will be able to hold the conference if social distancing requirements are withdrawn before the fall. Please check our website, PestFacts.org, for updates about the conference. (Editor’s Note: See a compilation of all industry events impacted by the pandemic here.)
The pandemic also has meant a shift in priorities for all associations, including RISE. During March and April, our focus was on seeking essential business status at the federal and state levels for all pesticide manufacturer and applicator segments, along with monitoring daily and weekly changes to those designations. We’ve also been monitoring temporary suspensions of several state’s pesticide applicator licensing programs, as governors redirected resources to their COVID-19 response, and state employees followed stay-at-home executive orders.
We’ve worked to support applicator groups as federal and state determinations of essential services are made, rescinded and reconsidered. Learning from members about their concerns as we navigate the COVID-19 situation and its aftermath also is a priority. While some aspects of this forecasting are a bit like looking into a crystal ball, thanks to the magnitude of the pandemic, being well prepared for what’s next is something we can do even while working remotely.
We find ourselves in a challenging time, but it’s a time when our industry’s products and services are highly visible as part of protecting public health, safety and infrastructure. I believe that when we return to a state of normalcy, each of us will have an opportunity to build upon this cycle of awareness and necessity in conversations about the essential role pest control plays in our collective wellbeing.
Read more COVID-19 coverage here: MyPMP.net/COVID-19
PROVOST is president of Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE). She may be reached at 202-872-3860 or RISE@pestfacts.org.