Herbicide sprayer spraying in field Sean Gallup , Getty Images
A farmworker nears the end of the road while spraying a field of soybeans.

CropLife America at work to bring order to pesticide regulation

“We are seeing more and more attempts to try to ban or restrict the use of specific active ingredients,” says Case, ingredients such as neonics, chlorpyriphos, glyphosate, 2,4-D, atrazine and dicamba.

CropLife America (CLA) is trying to bring order back to pesticide regulation at the federal level, says Jeff Case, senior director, government affairs with CLA, during the opening session of the Texas Plant Protection Association annual conference at Bryan, Texas, in December.

CLA advocates for and promotes the responsible use of innovative, safe and environmentally sound crop protection products (including herbicides, fungicides and insecticides) that are essential in the production of food, fiber and renewable or alternative fuels.

“We discussed challenges that we are facing more and more on the state and local level with state legislation and local ordinances, and some of the restrictions other entities would like to place on the use of some of the modern agriculture techniques and tools that farmers use,” said Case. “We continue to do all we can to defend the industry and help make these products available and defend farmers’ rights to operate and use these products.”

At the state and local level, CLA is tracking 374 state bills. “We have a lot of people helping us, a lot of our state affiliate organizations, Farm Bureau and other groups and contract lobbyists that help with tracking those bills,” says Case.

Of the 374 bills, 135 are designated as priority, “meaning if the bill goes through it will be a serious impedance to our right and ability to do business,” Case explains. 

Major areas on which CLA is focused are: pollinators, preemption and protecting the environment and health. “In the 1990s, our industry looked at state laws and recognized weaknesses in a number of them, so we strengthened them and got preemption, meaning, the localities could not regulate pesticides, rather the authority resides at the state level or most often the State Department of Agriculture. Now, activists are either trying to erode preemption where it exists or trying to take advantage of preemption where it doesn’t.

CropLife America (CLA) is trying to bring order back to pesticide regulation at the federal level, says Jeff Case, senior director, government affairs with CLA, during the opening session of the Texas Plant Protection Association annual conference at Bryan, Texas, in December.

CLA advocates for and promotes the responsible use of innovative, safe and environmentally sound crop protection products (including herbicides, fungicides and insecticides) that are essential in the production of food, fiber and renewable or alternative fuels.

“We discussed challenges that we are facing more and more on the state and local level with state legislation and local ordinances, and some of the restrictions other entities would like to place on the use of some of the modern agriculture techniques and tools that farmers use,” said Case. “We continue to do all we can to defend the industry and help make these products available and defend farmers’ rights to operate and use these products.”

At the state and local level, CLA is tracking 374 state bills. “We have a lot of people helping us, a lot of our state affiliate organizations, Farm Bureau and other groups and contract lobbyists that help with tracking those bills,” says Case.

Of the 374 bills, 135 are designated as priority, “meaning if the bill goes through it will be a serious impedance to our right and ability to do business,” Case explains. 

Major areas on which CLA is focused are: pollinators, preemption and protecting the environment and health. “In the 1990s, our industry looked at state laws and recognized weaknesses in a number of them, so we strengthened them and got preemption, meaning, the localities could not regulate pesticides, rather the authority resides at the state level or most often the State Department of Agriculture. Now, activists are either trying to erode preemption where it exists or trying to take advantage of preemption where it doesn’t.

“We are seeing more and more attempts to try to ban or restrict the use of specific active ingredients,” says Case, ingredients such as neonics, chlorpyriphos, glyphosate, 2,4-D, atrazine and dicamba.

Because many crops require pesticides to make them work, Case says, a real nexus exists between biotech crops and pesticide issues. “Activists use pesticides as a tool to disparage biotech crops,” he says. “And when you look at the issues we are seeing, they’re targeting the companies, the technology and all of modern agricultural technology, not just pesticides.”

One of the biggest issues CLA is working on is the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the challenge around the consultation process between the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine and Fisheries Service (NMFS) (collectively, the Services), and that activist groups were able to sue because no good consultation process is in place, says Case. 

“In the end, this holds up the development of new products and bringing new products into the marketplace, and can take some of those tools out of the marketplace.”

For 2018, Case says on a federal level, he is cautiously optimistic, “I think we’ll be able to make some changes,” such as improvements in the ESA consultation process, resetting pesticide policy and product approvals. At the state level, things may become more challenging as some of these issues get pushed down to the state and local levels. “And we will continue to see a greater amount of activism out there.”

 

Outreach

Part of CLA’s promotion and advocacy efforts include one of its longstanding initiatives called, “Tell Me More,” an educational program about the benefits of the crop protection industry, created especially for employees of CLA member companies. Case says the website provides, “a lot of materials that talk about the benefits of some of the modern agriculture tools farmers use.”

For example, on National Doughnut Day, CLA talked about the benefits of using pesticides to build a donut, “Crop protection products help produce the wheat and sugarcane used to make those deliciously-fried fastnachts,” it states on their website. Tell Me More also provides lesson plans geared at ninth through twelfth graders, about reducing food waste and loss, from the farmer to the consumer.

Another initiative, “Give a Crop” at http://giveacrop.org, includes, “some interesting, innovative videos as well practical information about answering some of the myths about pesticide products. So, if somebody is asking you something about pesticides and you don’t know the right answer, they provide a simple answer.”

Because many crops require pesticides to make them work, Case says, a real nexus exists between biotech crops and pesticide issues. “Activists use pesticides as a tool to disparage biotech crops,” he says. “And when you look at the issues we are seeing, they’re targeting the companies, the technology and all of modern agricultural technology, not just pesticides.”

One of the biggest issues CLA is working on is the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the challenge around the consultation process between the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine and Fisheries Service (NMFS) (collectively, the Services), and that activist groups were able to sue because no good consultation process is in place, says Case. 

“In the end, this holds up the development of new products and bringing new products into the marketplace, and can take some of those tools out of the marketplace.”

For 2018, Case says on a federal level, he is cautiously optimistic, “I think we’ll be able to make some changes,” such as improvements in the ESA consultation process, resetting pesticide policy and product approvals. At the state level, things may become more challenging as some of these issues get pushed down to the state and local levels. “And we will continue to see a greater amount of activism out there.”

Outreach

Part of CLA’s promotion and advocacy efforts include one of its longstanding initiatives called, “Tell Me More,” an educational program about the benefits of the crop protection industry, created especially for employees of CLA member companies. Case says the website provides, “a lot of materials that talk about the benefits of some of the modern agriculture tools farmers use.”

For example, on National Doughnut Day, CLA talked about the benefits of using pesticides to build a donut, “Crop protection products help produce the wheat and sugarcane used to make those deliciously-fried fastnachts,” it states on their website. Tell Me More also provides lesson plans geared at ninth through twelfth graders, about reducing food waste and loss, from the farmer to the consumer.

Another initiative, “Give a Crop” at http://giveacrop.org, includes, “some interesting, innovative videos as well practical information about answering some of the myths about pesticide products. So, if somebody is asking you something about pesticides and you don’t know the right answer, they provide a simple answer.”

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