In a letter sent to U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner, National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) President Gene Schmidt expressed support for bipartisan legislation ensuring farmers, ranchers and foresters can continue using pesticides in compliance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

H.R. 872, sponsored by Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, would continue to ensure the protection of water during routine, FIFRA-label pesticide use, while clarifying that applicators abiding by these strict standards do not need to go through the unnecessary and burdensome process of obtaining Clean Water Act (CWA) permits.

“The EPA conducts a rigorous analysis of the health and environmental effects of a proposed use of a pesticide,” said Schmidt. “When used in compliance with the EPA-approved label, FIFRA-registered pesticides have already been proven safe. Additional permitting requirements would only cause confusion, uncertainty and increased regulatory burdens and cost – without providing any clear environmental benefits.”

H.R. 872 is a response to a 6th Circuit Court ruling that National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits are required for all pesticide applications made to, over, or near U.S. bodies of water. Prior to this ruling, EPA considered pesticide applications in accordance with FIFRA exempt from CWA permits. Without legislation, EPA is under court order to require CWA NPDES permits in addition to the requirements under FIFRA.

“Instead of wasting precious time and resources on duplicative permitting efforts, EPA should instead focus its efforts on working with farmers and landowners to support on-the-ground conservation measures with true environmental value,” Schmidt said.

H.R. 872 currently has 105 cosponsors and is expected to be brought up for a vote in the House today. To view Schmidt’s letter to Speaker Boehner: http://www.nacdnet.org/policy/input/letters/Pesticides_House_March_2011.pdf