Consolidated, bipartisan legislation offers the best hope of fixing a regulatory nightmare created by a 2009 court ruling. That ruling overturned a key exemption for pesticide use under the Clean Water Act, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“The court set aside decades-worth of sound public policy on pesticide regulation,” Stallman said. “Right now there are three different bills to clear up this potential regulatory nightmare for farmers and ranchers. While each of the efforts is appreciated, we really need our lawmakers to come together in a unified effort.”

Stallman said he appreciates the recognition by lawmakers that a congressional solution is needed. The latest effort is a bill introduced on Sept. 30 by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) The Peterson bill amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Clean Water Act to prohibit additional permits for pesticides when applied consistent with FIFRA.

Similar bills have also been introduced by Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, and in the Senate by Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). Stallman said Farm Bureau is calling for the three legislative efforts to “join forces.”

The problem was created by a 2009 ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned an Environmental Protection Agency rule exempting pesticide applications over or near water from the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits.

Prior to the ruling, those pesticide uses were already governed by terms of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. The ruling creates a bureaucratic quagmire and requires the EPA to establish another permitting process under the Clean Water Act.

“Farmers are bound by law to use pesticides properly in accordance with their labels,” Stallman said. “The bureaucratic red tape of a duplicate permit process to apply a safe and already approved product should be unacceptable. The kind of regulatory overkill created by this misguided court decision will not improve food safety or the environment.

“The clock is ticking. EPA has set a timeline for the new permit process. This is going to cause a lot of confusion and expensive litigation before it is all said and done. Congress needs to take action quickly in a bipartisan manner before the permit program starts, in April 2011.”
For background information on the Peterson bill see http://southeastfarmpress.com/peterson-introduces-bill-voiding-npdes-permit-rule.
Also see http://southeastfarmpress.com/management/afbf-lincolns-support-key-reining-regulations.