The Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association is applauding the Senate Nutrition and Forestry Committee's recent approval of H.R. 872, which will remove what the group called "duplicative and onerous" new permitting requirements for pesticide applications.
Committee members took the action with a voice vote at a business meeting called to review the bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives in late March.
The growers' organization noted that Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, voted for the measure that will "help farmers conduct business without more un-needed regulations."
"There are plenty of rules regarding usage of pesticides in agriculture," a statement from the grower group said. "Sen. Brown's vote shows that while he understands the need for environmental regulations, he also recognizes when regulations become counterproductive to business and do nothing to further protect the environment. There are laws in place regarding usage; they are good laws and they are working. EPA's own analysis suggests that the NPDES permits program for pesticides will result in the single greatest expansion of the program in its history, creating unnecessary work for shrinking state agencies and for farmers, who are part of Ohio's No. 1 economic driver — agriculture."
When finalized, the bill will amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Clean Water Act to clarify congressional intent and eliminate the requirement for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits for applications of pesticides approved for use under FIFRA.
The new requirements emerged following a January 2009 ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court stating that pesticide discharge is a point source of pollution subject to additional regulation under the Clean Water Act.
The decision is effective in October following two and a half years of stays intended to allow agencies throughout the country to determine how it will be implemented.
The EPA has estimated that the ruling will affect approximately 365,000 pesticide applicators that perform 5.6 million pesticide applications annually, which will require a new level of paperwork and processing that the federal government and few local entities are prepared to deal with.
If a legislative solution is not achieved when the new requirement goes into effect, farmers running afoul of it could be subject to fines in maximum of $37,500 per day.
"We are happy to see the Senate taking action on this important legislation," says OCWGA President Mark Wachtman, who is also a Henry County, farmer.