Push for state-level pesticide preemption continues

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February 7, 2024

JD Darr

JD Darr

Hopes remains high that pesticide preemption will be included in the next Farm Bill, a package of legislation primarily related to agriculture, food and farming.

A new Farm Bill is enacted every five years, but that’s not what happened when the latest version, titled the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, was set to expire in September 2023.

Instead, on Nov. 16, 2023, President Joe Biden signed into law the Further Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act, 2024, which extends the 2018 Farm Bill through September 2024.

The pest control connection

The Farm Bill gives legislators an opportunity to advocate for policy changes that have a better chance of being enacted as part of a larger package, and that’s where pesticide preemption comes in.

Pesticide preemption would prevent localities from regulating pesticides, and instead ensure agencies with scientific expertise are able to evaluate whether a product is safe and effective. Oversight of pest control would be handled jointly by each state’s lead agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

If pesticide preemption is included in the next Farm Bill, it would reinforce the exclusive authority of states to regulate the sale, distribution and use of pesticides. Currently, Alaska, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Nevada do not have state-wide pesticide preemption laws.

Although 45 states have pesticide preemption laws, some city and county officials across the country try to regulate the sale and use of pesticides in their jurisdictions, setting stricter standards and ignoring the decisions already made by the EPA and state lead agencies. Recently, an Illinois senator introduced a bill that would roll back pesticide preemption in the state, and the governor of New York vetoed a bill that would have allowed for the rollback of pesticide preemption in the state.

Time to take action

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) has been taking steps to ensure pesticide preemption nationwide. For the past couple of years, its Legislative Day event has focused on this issue, and attendees meeting with their state representatives on Capitol Hill have advocated for its inclusion in the Farm Bill. This year is no different, as the NPMA is asking pest management professionals (PMPs) to meet with their state representatives to discuss its importance.

Diane Sofranec

Diane Sofranec

“State-level pesticide preemption is the No. 1 legislative priority of NPMA members,” says J.D. Darr, the NPMA’s director of legislative and regulatory affairs. “Including language in the upcoming Farm Bill that codifies state oversight of pesticides at the state-level would fix the broken regulatory framework that exists in the five states without pesticide preemption and protect PMPs from attempts to roll back preemption in states where it currently is in place.”

If the Farm Bill is passed with pesticide preemption, nothing will change for the 45 states that currently have it. The five states that do not have it will be required to regulate pesticides at the state level.

The NPMA encourages PMPs to take action at Legislative Day, which will be held in Washington, D.C., March 10-12. The event, now in its 40th year, will include educational sessions and networking opportunities. More importantly, it will give attendees an opportunity to meet one-on-one with their state representatives and make a case for including pesticide preemption in the next Farm Bill.

At Legislative Day, the NPMA offers talking points and tips on meeting with legislators and their staff members.

“Our talking points will continue to stress the importance of science-based, comprehensive and enforceable regulation of the pest management industry,” Darr says. “Every congressional office can relate to pest control. Constituents in both red and blue states, rural and urban districts can all agree that protecting homes and businesses from pest infestations is the right thing to do.”

For more information about 2024 Legislative Day, visit www.npmapestworld.org/legislativeday.

About the Author

Headshot: Diane Sofranec

Diane Sofranec is the senior editor for PMP magazine. She can be reached at dsofranec@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3793.

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