The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) praised efforts by a bipartisan group in the House of Representatives to eliminate the possibility of costly and duplicative pesticide permitting requirements that are a result of a misguided decision by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in National Cotton Council v. EPA.

The legislation, H.R. 872, was introduced this week by Representatives Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) and Joe Baca (D-Calif.); also joining as original co-sponsors were House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).

“With an April 9 deadline for compliance with permit requirements looming, the leadership shown by the House members introducing and sponsoring H.R. 872 is greatly appreciated,” said Chuck Conner, president & CEO of NCFC. “We would like to see the House take up the bill in a timely manner, and hope that the Senate considers similar legislation as well.”

“Action is needed to relieve the tremendous costs, resource burdens, and regulatory uncertainty caused by the Circuit Court ruling,” continued Conner.  “It is clear that Congress always intended the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to be the law of the land on these sorts of pesticide applications, as pesticides were specifically not included in the Clean Water Act when it was written.”

The House bill would amend both FIFRA and the Clean Water Act to clarify congressional intent and eliminate the requirements of a Clean Water Act permit for the use of FIFRA-registered pesticides.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the ruling will affect nearly 365,000 pesticide applicators nationwide and cost $50 million a year to implement. Conner said that the while the impacts of the new requirements will be severe, there is little evidence that they will provide any identifiable environmental benefit.

Conner also noted that EPA has just today requested an extension of the April 9th deadline from the Sixth Circuit Court. “With less than a month to go before the deadline, it is good that the EPA has finally realized that more time will be needed,” said Conner. “We hope the Court grants this request and that Congress will use the added time to clarify the law and ensure a more common sense approach to pesticide regulation.”

NCFC is a national association representing America’s farmer cooperatives. There are nearly 3,000 farmer cooperatives across the U.S. whose members include a majority of our nation’s more than 2 million farmers, ranchers and growers. These farmer cooperative businesses handle, process, and market agricultural commodities and related products; furnish farm supplies; and provide credit and associated financial services. Earnings from these activities are returned to their members on a patronage basis. Farmer cooperatives also provide jobs for nearly 250,000 Americans, many in rural areas, with a combined payroll of over $8 billion.