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Farm bill back on track, could bring clarification on regulatory issues

Now that the Congress has put aside its budget differences – at least temporarily – it appears there’s a good chance for passage of a new farm bill. CropLife America’s Beau Greenwood says the House version of the farm bill contains some provisions that could help bring clarity to pesticide regulations. Greenwood was a speaker at the Southern Crop Production Association’s State Affairs Summit.

After nearly three years of divisive debate, partisan maneuvering and interference from non-ag "think tanks," it's difficult to believe a farm bill is insight, and Greenwood believes it's possible passage has more to do with "the savings of $25 billion to $30 billion the farm bill could afford than good farm policy."

Nevertheless, Greenwood said the Congress and the president are both talking about the farm bll, and "when everyone starts talking about it, that means something usually gets done."

While the farm bill is not always thought of as a major point of interest for the crop protection industry, Greenwood said there are several provisions in the two bills that have passed the Congress that are of specific interest to farm input suppliers and thus to farmers.

Chief among those is pollinators and pollinator health. "There is language in both of the House and Senate versions of the farm bill that we think is good and necessary and that we support. Whether that is authorization for new pollinator research or guidance with respect to new forage through existing USDA conservation programs. As an industry we continue to work very closely with the commercial beekeeping industry to address those issues underpinning pollinator health."

Among other issues is the points where the Endangered Species Act and FIFRA (the Federal Insecticides, Fungicides and Rodenticides Act) intersect and NPDES or Non-Point Discharge Elimination Permits in the Clean Water Act. Legislation concerning the latter, which has passed the House, is being pushed by Sen. Kay Hagan, R-N.C., who recently sent a letter to the farm bill conferees urging them to include the House legislation in the conference report.

"There is language in the farm bill with respct to the Clean Water Act and FIFRA that would clarfy that NPDES permits are not required for certain aquatic pesticide applications, and that's something that we hope we will see cross the finish line as part of this farm bill as well."



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