Key Legislators Take On 6th Circuit Court Over Costly Regulations

June 23, 2011

By an overwhelming bi-partisan majority, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed a House bill that will remove costly and redundant regulatory burdens on producers while providing no environmental or consumer benefits. The bill, which passed on a voice vote in the Senate committee, had easily passed the House by a very large, bi-partisan margin.

The vote was a strong rebuke to the January 2009 ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court saying pesticide discharge is a point source of pollution subject to additional regulation under the Clean Water Act.

Farm groups across the country and key legislators immediately applauded passage of the measure. “This bill will eliminate a double layer of red tape that ultimately costs producers and consumers, and I stand ready to protect public health and reduce duplicative regulations by moving this bill to the Senate floor,” said Kansas Senator Pat Roberts (R).

When finalized, the bill will eliminate a costly and duplicative permitting requirement for the application of pesticides, whichwill be implemented by a January 2009 court order saying pesticide discharge is apoint source of pollution subject to additional regulation under the Clean Water Act.

That requirement, according to many farm groups, would impose an economic burden to agricultural producers, foresters, public health agencies, the federal government, state agencies, and every day citizens.

“If a legislative solution is not achieved when the new requirement goes into effect, farmers running afoul of it could be subject to fines of up to $37,500 per day,” according to the National Association of Wheat Growers.

The EPA has estimated the costly court ruling will affect approximately 365,000 pesticide applicators that perform 5.6 million pesticide applications annually–whichwill require a new level of paperwork and processing the federal government and few local entities are prepared to deal with.

The National Cotton Council also commended the Senate committee for passage of the bill, noting that without this legislative fix, the requirement “would impose an economic burden to agricultural producers, foresters, public health agencies, the federal government, state agencies and everyday citizens.”

Ohio’s Bob Gibbs, who is not only a farmer and past president of the Ohio Farm Bureau but the author of the bill, quickly applauded the committee vote and urged the bill onward to the floor of the Senate. “Failure to pass this legislation would prove to be a huge barrier to job creation, as well as a disastrous, unnecessary expansion of government.”