Senator Marshall Introduces Legislation Aiming To Improve Communication Between EPA and USDA
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. introduced the USDA Communication Regarding Oversight of Pesticides (CROP) Act of 2023, which would ensure that the USDA Office of Pest Management Policy (OPMP) has a meaningful voice in the regulation of pesticides and bolsters OPMP’s coordination with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
While OPMP provides feedback to the EPA on the safe use of pesticides, EPA is not required to respond to OPMP’s guidance. Senator Marshall has recently exposed a pattern of the EPA ignoring OPMP expertise. This bill fixes the problem by giving OPMP more latitude to provide feedback and by requiring EPA to publicly respond.
This legislation is being co-sponsored by Senators Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Wicker (R-MS) and led in the House by Rep. Arrington (R-TX-19).
“For our producers to work efficiently and be good stewards of their land and environment, it is vital they have access to safe and effective pesticides,” said Senator Marshall. “The EPA’s work reviewing new and existing pesticides and giving strict guidelines to our nation’s producers is critical but should not operate autonomously of the important work that the OPMP is doing. OPMP has a role in this process and is only interested in helping the EPA issue guidance that uses the best science and research available. Our legislation makes sure the OPMP is not being sidelined and has a voice in this regulation process.”
“The USDA CROP Act would bring the best science and transparency to the pesticide review process so our agriculture industry can continue delivering high-quality products to Americans,” said Senator Wicker.
“The EPA consistently turns a blind eye to ag-related recommendations from agricultural specialists at the USDA, and such regulatory arrogance ends up harming farmers and their ability to produce the food and fiber on which we all rely,” said Senator Hyde-Smith. “This smart legislation simply tries to ensure interagency cooperation between the EPA and USDA when developing rules governing pesticides and their use.”
“The EPA’s neglect of the USDA OPMP guidance unduly punishes and creates uncertainty for West Texas farmers and ranchers who are trying to keep consistent the practices of their family industries and small businesses. The OPMP provides necessary information pertaining to the viability of the EPA’s pesticide approval process and without the OPMP’s advice, agricultural producers will be negatively affected not only in Texas, but throughout the country,” said Rep. Arrington. “Our legislation ensures that the EPA ceases their continual, well-documented, ignoring of OPMP expertise, and creates a cohesive, streamlined, regulatory approval process for pesticide products.”
“CLA appreciates Senator Marshall’s work to improve the coordination between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is imperative that the agencies work together to help ensure the most up to date, scientifically-sound data is available when pesticide registration decisions are made. This Act provides the opportunity for USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy to be engaged and heard in the pesticide registration process. This will assist both the EPA’s scientists and better represent the farmers and ranchers around the country who use these products,” said Chris Novak, President and CEO of CropLife America.
“Growers deserve a predictable regulatory system and to be assured that federal agencies are communicating product uses, benefits and risk mitigation practices growers already have in place. Too often EPA moves forward with overly conservative assumptions without fully considering the input of USDA and the growers who use the products. This bill represents a significant step toward addressing this perennial problem,” said Craig Meeker, Chairman of National Sorghum Producers.
“The American farmer needs access to critical crop protection tools to continue to sustainably feed and fuel the world. The important work that EPA does to ensure these products do not impact human health or the environment must be based on proven science. We hope that EPA coordinating more closely with the experts at USDA in the registration and rulemaking processes will result in better outcomes for farmers and consumers alike,” said Kaleb Little, CEO, Kansas Soybean Association.
Kansas farmers have been leaders in adopting conservation practices such as reduced and no-till farming, that reduce soil erosion and runoff as much as 75%, while greatly reducing fuel and labor costs. These practices are only possible if they have access to crop protection products. We appreciate any efforts that will hold the EPA accountable to following sound science that allow producers to continue to adopt these conservation practices,” said Josh Roe, CEO, Kansas Corn Growers Association.
You may click HERE to read Senator Marshall’s full legislation.
U.S. farmers and ranchers are coping with record inflation and broken supply chains — the last thing they need is the severe limitation of traditional farming tools and methods. If these producers lose the ability to use certain crop protection products, farms will be forced to forgo conservation practices, like no-till farming, and revert to full tillage methods to control pests. EPA has taken a number of adverse actions that limit a farmer’s ability to safely grow crops and feed the world. Actions that Senator Marshall has raised in a letter to the President asking him to defend farmers.
Just yesterday, EPA released the draft Herbicide Strategy for public comment which already shows how disconnected they are from actual agriculture production. This is the type of document where EPA NEEDS to hear from USDA and grower groups. Among other issues, this strategy penalizes practices on dryland and will unfortunately target the drought-stricken west.
In July 2022, Senator Marshall introduced similar legislation, the EPA Transparency for Agricultural Products Act, a comprehensive bill that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from overregulating essential pesticides that the ag industry heavily depends upon. Specifically, this bill acted to take steps to ensure transparency and accountability within the EPA’s rulemaking process for pesticides.