The National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA’s) last in-person Legislative Day was in March 2020. The event saw a record turnout — two days before Capitol Hill closed to visitors. As I write this in late December, it has not reopened.
Our industry was one of the last groups to meet with staffers and members of Congress before our whole world changed. People everywhere have undergone a seismic shift in their perceptions of how indispensable public health protection is. More specific to us, our industry is now essential; it’s something we’ve known all along, but now we have the national designation and recognition.
We’ve carried that essential designation proudly through two years of ups and downs. As the country has largely reopened, with it has come an increasing recognition of how important the role of professional pest management is in public health protection. Every day, members of our industry protect American’s food, health, businesses and property. We create a quality of life that most people take for granted.
THE NEED FOR EDUCATION
Policymakers are really just regular people who got elected. Some of them have misconceptions about our industry. Whether we talk to them in person like in 2020, or we meet with them virtually as we did in 2021, our message stays the same: We are protecting the quality of life for all Americans, and we need every tool in our toolbox to do it.
One of the most important functions of Legislative Day is educating staffers and members of Congress who may have only heard snippets about our industry and how we use products and materials to manage pest infestations. They may not understand our integrated pest management (IPM) approach. Helping them truly see the strong community connections our members have, or the protection we provide to at-risk individuals in healthcare facilities or children in schools is critical. With other issues looming every day, we need to make our voices heard.
Policymakers handle hundreds of issues and meet with thousands of constituents every year, so when you meet with the office of your representative, you’re not only helping them understand how important the work we do is, but you’re humanizing our issues. You also are helping them see that a voter cares about these issues. All too often, policymakers are flooded with emails and tweets, and it’s crucial our industry is there to advocate for science-based policymaking.
That’s the crux of what we want policymakers to take away from every Legislative Day — that our industry supports science; that we support measured decision-making based on facts. That’s why you should attend Legislative Day. We need your voice to help advocate in favor of preemption and help policymakers understand what our industry does. Pesticide preemption means the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state lead agencies — not local governments — are responsible for regulating pesticides. To have local governments intervene will create a crazy-quilt effect where what’s legal in one market may not be in the next, which places an unfair burden on the pest management industry.
WE’RE HERE TO HELP
If you have never gone on Capitol Hill visits before, you might be a little intimidated — don’t be! The NPMA Public Policy team has a number of resources to help first-time and experienced advocates approach Legislative Day with confidence. We will issue briefs in advance, make your Capitol Hill appointments, offer a webinar to walk through our asks and, of course, host multiple sessions in-person from March 13-15.
If our industry stands a chance of getting federal preemption passed as part of the 2023 Farm Bill, it will make our industry united. We need you to attend our Legislative Day, whether you’ve come before or are heading to Washington, D.C., for the first time. Your voice can make the difference when it comes to educating policymakers. If our industry is essential, then so are you when it comes to making a difference in D.C.