The National Corn Growers Association expressed disappointment in the Senate's failure to act on legislation that would have clarified federal permits are not required when applying pesticides according to their EPA-approved label.
"NCGA is disappointed the Senate did not approve H.R. 872 prior to the Oct. 31 deadline when the NPDES pesticide permitting program takes effect," NCGA President Garry Niemeyer, an Illinois corn farmer, said. "Despite broad bipartisan support for the proposal, lawmakers were unable to identify a path forward for this important legislation. As a result, farmers like me are now exposed to a new set of legal liabilities and regulatory requirements under the Clean Water Act, without a guarantee of any additional environmental benefits."
For most of the past four decades, water quality concerns from pesticide applications were addressed within the registration process under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), rather than a Clean Water Act permitting program. H.R. 872 would amend both the Clean Water Act and FIFRA in order to restore the previous regulatory framework.
Under a federal court ruling in 2009, certain pesticide applicators would have to apply for an NPDES permit if the chemical reaches a body of water, which could include ditches and culverts. The complex new requirements will expose farmers to potential citizen action suits for routine pesticide applications that have already been deemed safe by the EPA.
"It is not too late for Congress to provide regulatory relief to America's farmers," Niemeyer said. "We strongly urge Senate Republicans and Democrats to work together to resolve this issue in a timely manner."