Dec 14, 2017
NPC supports simplification of pesticide permit requirements

The National Potato Council has joined over 150 agricultural organizations in urging the Senate to pass the “Sensible Environmental Protection Act of 2017.” This legislation seeks to eliminate the federal requirement for duplicate permits to be issued when farmers are applying pesticides on or near water bodies.

The NPC said that for over 30 years, farmers who were complying with the Federal Fungicide, Insecticide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) did not need to obtain an additional permit for pesticide applications.

“However, activists’ lawsuits in 2009 demanded that farming operations near water bodies also needed to be covered under the Clean Water Act’s (CWA) provisions originally designed to regulate discharges from toxic chemical factories and other point sources,” the group wrote.

The federal courts could find no congressional clarification that FIFRA and the CWA were mutually exclusive. Therefore, farmers are now required to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits prior to applying pesticides on their land if the applications occurred near covered water bodies. The NPC said federal fines for errors relating to these NPDES permits are $37,000 per day.

Further, the NPC said they, and numerous other organizations including the Environmental Protection Agency, believe that no additional environmental benefit is gained from requiring these duplicate permits and that they actually serve as an opportunity for aggressive activists to sue individual farmers for inadvertent paper work errors.  In an open letter to Senate leadership, the NPC and other groups, said S. 340 seeks to clarify that farmers, public health (mosquito control) districts and other activities that are fully complying with FIFRA should not be put in further legal jeopardy by having to obtain these permits.

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