Senate Ag approves fee for timely EPA pesticide approval | TheFencePost.com
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Senate Ag approves fee for timely EPA pesticide approval

The Senate Agriculture Committee today unanimously approved a bill that allows pesticide producers to pay a fee for more timely approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The bill – H.R. 1029: Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act of 2017 (PRIA) – is now on its way to full Senate consideration before the current law expires at the end of September. The House approved the bill in March.

"This historically noncontroversial, bipartisan legislation is vitally important to both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as well as farmers and farmworkers," said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., in a joint statement. "Not only does this legislation provide certainty to the pesticide industry, but it also provides new products to farmers for crop protection and to consumers to protect public health."

In a letter addressed to Roberts and Stabenow, a broad coalition of organizations – environmental NGOs, farmworker advocates, state regulatory agencies, pesticide companies and industry trade associations – voiced support for the passage of PRIA.

"This legislation will continue the positive progress that the original PRIA brought to the pesticide registration and evaluation process," the letter reads. "We respectively urge Congress to move quickly to reauthorize this highly successful program, providing certainty to the regulated community in the review of pesticide applications, and continued scrutiny over the appropriate use of pesticides to provide assurance to the public."

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., was the lone senator to raise any concerns with the passage of the bill despite the unanimous approval. Specifically, she took issue with what she views as the Trump administration's continuous attempts to delay EPA rules which would extend protections of farmers and expand certification requirements for pesticide users.

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Gillibrand offered, but withdrew, an amendment that would have required any Obama administration regulations that EPA meddles with or pulls back be subject to a "negotiated rule-making process" to protect farm communities from dangers.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he had not yet fully reviewed Gillibrand's amendment, but wants to work with her on accomplishing its goals. Stabenow also voiced her support for the goals of Gillibrand's amendment.

"Let it be known the Senate Ag Committee is actually doing work and passing legislation," Roberts said to a room of laughter following the unanimous approval.