Ag Policy Blog

House Ag Committee Approves Two Pesticide Bills

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
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The House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday approved H.R. 953, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, which would clarify congressional intent regarding pesticide regulation in or around waters of the United States, and H.R. 1029, the Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act, which reauthorizes the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA).

CropLife America praised lawmakers for advancing the two bills, though noting each has a slightly different focus.

PRIA was intended to create a more predictable and effective evaluation process for affected pesticide decisions by coupling the collection of fees with specific decision review periods. It also promoted a shorter decision review period for reduced-risk pesticides.

Beau Greenwood, executive vice president of government relations and public affairs at CropLife America, thanked key members of the committee for advancing the bill. “The reauthorization of PRIA ensures the continuation of the process improvements in EPA’s registration program, guarantees stable funding for the agency and protects block grants for training and education programs.” Greenwood continued, “The diverse coalition that has once again come together to support PRIA reauthorization should serve as a template for a host of pesticide and public policy issues in the 115th Congress.”

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In a press release, the committee said, “A 2009 court decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit erroneously applied the provisions of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting process under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to pesticide applications that were already fully regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). This resulted in costly and duplicative burdens for many farmers, ranchers, water resource boards and public health professionals involved in mosquito control, all without providing quantifiable public health or environmental benefits.”

“The Agriculture Committee has now passed the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act five times,” House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, said in the release. “This unnecessary permitting process has not only cost American farmers time and money, it has also had implications for public health.”

“It was never Congress’ intent to create two different permitting requirements. It is time for Congress to finally act to correct a misguided court decision and give farmers and pesticide applicators much needed relief from this costly and duplicative regulation,” Conaway said.

PRIA was intended to create a more predictable and effective evaluation process for affected pesticide decisions by coupling the collection of fees with specific decision review periods. It also promoted a shorter decision review period for reduced-risk pesticides.

The committee also said, “PRIA has been reauthorized three times, with the most recent reauthorization due to expire on September 30, 2017. In addition to extending provisions, the bill adjusts fee amounts, increases transparency, encourages Good Laboratory Practices (GLP), and adds flexibility to the use of collected fees.”

“For over a decade, PRIA has provided certainty and predictability to the agricultural and public health communities while promoting transparency in the pesticide registration process. That is why the broad coalition that drove the original legislation remains fully committed today. This bill builds on those core principles to further improve the process and ensure access to tools that are vital not only to farmers but to society as a whole,” Conaway said.

In a separate statement, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said he favored both bills and urged his members to vote for them.

The approval was by voice vote, but Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., registered objection to the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, a Peterson spokeswoman said.

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