The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

Sen. Roberts introduces pesticide permit bill


Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, and a group of other Republican senators today introduced a bill to exempt farms from duplicative pesticide permit application requirements.

The House passed a similar bill last week, and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn, have urged the Senate to take it up.

The bill addresses a requirement that has arisen from the January 2009, Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion in National Cotton Council v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which requires pesticide applications to be permitted under the Clean Water Act. This National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit would be in addition to any label requirements or restrictions already placed on the use of a pesticide under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), Roberts noted in a news release today.

In June 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency released a draft general permit for pesticide applications in response to the Sixth Circuit Court decision, but the court has since granted EPA’s request to delay implementation until October 31. Local governments as well as farmers have objected vigorously to the requirement.

“This double layer of red tape will cost producers and consumers,” said Roberts. “It also takes aim at public health departments by requiring permits on top of existing permits for pesticide use. This creates confusion and the potential for significant penalties. Our bill eliminates this redundant permit requirement while at the same time ensuring proper pesticide use through existing law.”

The bill’s cosponsors are Republican Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Mike Crapo and James Risch of Idaho, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Thad Cochran of Mississipi, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Roy Blunt Missouri, Jerry Moran of Kansas and Charles Grassley of Iowa.

Roberts said he has informed Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., that he has introduced the bill and that he looks forward to working with her on the effort.