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Groups Applaud House Passage of NPDES Permitting Bill
USAgNet - 04/01/2011

Several national farm organizations say they are pleased to see Thursday’s House passage of H.R. 872, a bill to remove duplicative new permitting requirements related to pesticide applications. The bill passed by a 292 to 134 vote.

When signed into law, the legislation will amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Clean Water Act to clarify Congressional intent and eliminate the requirement for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits for applications of pesticides approved for use under FIFRA.

This requirement has emanated from a ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court, issued in January 2009, which said pesticide discharge is a point source of pollution subject to additional regulation under the Clean Water Act.

The decision is set to go into effect this year following a two-year stay intended to allow local and federal government agencies to set up processes to implement it, though most remain unprepared. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated ruling will affect approximately 365,000 pesticide applicators that perform 5.6 million pesticide applications annually.

"A permanent solution to this extra regulatory burden is needed as soon as possible to give our growers certainty on what rules they must follow this production season," said Wayne Hurst, National Association of Wheat Growers president and a wheat producer from Idaho. "Wheat growers and other agricultural producers are committed to continuing to protect our land, air and water, but we need to know the rules of the road and deserve to have regulation that is understandable and streamlined."

Once implemented, farmers found not to be compliance with the new and vague requirements could be subject to fines of up to $37,500 per day--enough to put most out of business quickly.

The bill passed Thursday has achieved widespread bipartisan support from Members of Congress concerned about increasing regulation that will lead to no environmental gain and about the immense cost implementing the new permitting rules would entail for federal and state agencies and pesticide users, including farmers.

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