On Monday, June 6th a coalition of organizations sent a letter to Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, urging them to support H.R. 872. Agricultural Cooperative Council of Oregon; American Forest Resource Council; Associated Oregon Loggers; Hazelnut Marketing Board; Mint Industry Research Council; Northwest Food Processors Association; Oregon Association of Nurseries; Oregon Cattlemen’s Association; Oregon Clover Commission; Oregon Essential Oil Growers League; Oregon Farm Bureau; Oregon Farmers Union; Oregon Forest Industries Council; Oregon Golf Course Superintendants Association; Oregon Hop Growers Association; Oregon Mint Commission; Oregon Orchardgrass Commission; Oregon Potato Commission; Oregon Processed Vegetable Commission; Oregon Seed Council – Representing Oregon’s growers of clover, fine fescue, tall fescue,highland bentgrass, penncross bentgrass, orchardgrass and ryegrass; Oregon Small Woodlands Association; Oregon Water Resources Congress; Oregon Wheat Growers League; Oregon Women for Agriculture; Oregon – Washington Pea Growers Association; Oregonians for Food and Shelter; Oregonians in Action; Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association; and Water for Life.
Dear Senators Wyden and Merkley:
RE: H.R. 872 — We are writing this letter as a follow-up to conversations with you or your staff over the past several weeks to ask for your leadership and support of H.R. 872. While Agriculture has many needs, we are asking our U.S. Senators in all fifty states to take special interest in this issue and step forward to support us in bringing clarity to the National Cotton Council vs. EPA (6thCir. 2009) case.
Our Oregon Natural Resource communities will be seriously affected by the implementation of the Court’s ruling that directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit under the federal Clean Water Act for pesticides applied to or near water. For example, in Oregon the Department of Agriculture estimates that the new general use NPDES permit would cost growers about $1,200 per year – a new financial burden that will provide no additional benefit to or protections for waters of our state.
H.R. 872 would exempt from this NPDES permitting process, the application of a Federal Insecticide Fungicide Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) registered pesticide when used for its intended purpose and in full compliance with all EPA mandated label requirements. H.R. 872 amends FIFRA and the Clean Water Act, clarifying Congressional intent and eliminates this costly, duplicative NPDES requirement. The bill passed in the House of Representatives on March 31, 2011 with a 292 to 130 bipartisan vote.
Pesticides (including herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, rodenticides, germicides, etc.) play a critical role in much more than growing high quality and affordable food and fiber. They are also essential tools in the protection of public health and personal property, as well as enhancing and preserving wilderness and natural spaces in both urban and rural communities. A glance through the enclosed publication by Purdue University will give you further insight as to the many beneficial roles pesticides play in our society today.
FIFRA is one of the most stringent laws in the United States, requiring completion of a thorough and rigorous registration process beforea product is used. Sufficient valid scientific data must be submitted to EPA to show that the pesticide will not cause “any unreasonable risk to man or the environment” when used properly according to label specifications. As such, pesticides undergo more than 120 health, safety and environmental tests to ensure their safety and effectiveness. Development, testing and registration take an average of nine years and cost the pesticide registrant $152 million to $184 million for each crop protection product.
The potential to impact waterquality and aquatic species have been addressed during the FIFRA registration process and product labeling. Only products that have been approved by EPA for use as an “aquatic” pesticide can be applied to water. To apply a pesticide that is not registered for aquatic use to water is a violation of both Federal and State laws, and subject to significant penalties. In Oregon, such a willful violation of the State’s Pesticide Control Statutes (ORS 634.372 Prohibited Acts) could result civil penalties of $10,000 per occurrence. Clearly an additional layer of regulatory burden under the Clean Water Act is unnecessary.
We are asking you to support and work with the other supporters to pass the recently passed, bipartisan H.R. 872 legislation now in the U.S. Senate. Adding another layer of regulatory burden by requiring an extra permit for pesticide use will not enhance water quality. It will likely shift additional food and fiber production out of the United States. This loss of jobs will not provide our consumers of agricultural and forest products with additional safeguards, nor will it in any way increase the quality of our waters.
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