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House Ag approves two pesticide measures

The House Agriculture Committee on Feb. 16 approved H.R. 953, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, which would clarify congressional intent regarding pesticide regulation in or around waters of the U.S., and H.R. 1029, the Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act, which reauthorizes the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act.

PRIA was intended to create a more predictable and effective evaluation process for affected pesticide decisions by coupling the collection of fees with specific decision review periods. It also promoted a shorter decision review period for reduced-risk pesticides.

In a press release, the committee said, "A 2009 court decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit erroneously applied the provisions of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permitting process under the Clean Water Act to pesticide applications that were already fully regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. This resulted in costly and duplicative burdens for many farmers, ranchers, water resource boards and public health professionals involved in mosquito control, all without providing quantifiable public health or environmental benefits."

"The Agriculture Committee has now passed the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act five times," House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, said in the release. "This unnecessary permitting process has not only cost American farmers time and money, it has also had implications for public health."

"It was never Congress' intent to create two different permitting requirements. It is time for Congress to finally act to correct a misguided court decision and give farmers and pesticide applicators much needed relief from this costly and duplicative regulation," Conaway said.

PRIA was intended to create a more predictable and effective evaluation process for affected pesticide decisions by coupling the collection of fees with specific decision review periods. It also promoted a shorter decision review period for reduced-risk pesticides.

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The committee also said, "PRIA has been reauthorized three times, with the most recent reauthorization due to expire on Sept. 30, 2017. In addition to extending provisions, the bill adjusts fee amounts, increases transparency, encourages Good Laboratory Practices and adds flexibility to the use of collected fees."

"For over a decade, PRIA has provided certainty and predictability to the agricultural and public health communities while promoting transparency in the pesticide registration process. That is why the broad coalition that drove the original legislation remains fully committed today. This bill builds on those core principles to further improve the process and ensure access to tools that are vital not only to farmers but to society as a whole," Conaway said.

In a separate statement, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said he favored both bills and urged his members to vote for them.

The approval was by voice vote, but Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., registered objection to the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, a Peterson spokeswoman said.