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Struggle Between Senate Leaders Stalls Legislation

Struggle Between Senate Leaders Stalls Legislation

A ban on EPA pesticide permits is hung up waiting for floor action.

A Senate Ag Committee-passed ban on court-ordered EPA pesticide permits has been derailed for now. American Farm Bureau's Tyler Wegmeyer says Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., could have brought the bill to the Senate floor after the Ag Committee passed it last month. But caught between Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Environment and Public Works Chair Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Wegmeyer says Reid punted.

"So he has essentially passed the buck and said 'Hey, I can't choose one or the other,'" Wegmeyer said. "You guys need to work it out amongst yourselves and when you think you have a solution come back to me and we'll talk about a strategy to deal with this legislation."

Wegmeyer says Reid's action was a win for environmentalists who back a 2009 court order that EPA has to require permits for spraying in or near waters by this Oct. 31, when users will otherwise face fines and possible lawsuits.

"The opponents of the bill that don't want to see it go anywhere, they like this," Wegmeyer said. "I mean if you have to work out your differences you can use that as a delaying tactic as long as you possibly can."

AFBF, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and other ag groups met with Reid before the Agriculture Committee vote last month to press for floor action. An Agriculture panel letter to Reid asked for a floor vote, but that came late as environmentalists also exerted pressure on that panel's Democrats. Now Wegmeyer says the process will be dragged out.

"The more time this drags out it gives the environmental community and their followers more time to drum up misinformation," Wegmeyer said. "Also time to go to the Hill and really try to stop this piece of legislation."

Staff members of EPW Subcommittee Chair Ben Cardin, D-Md., insist there's plenty of time to work on the pesticide bill, but Wegmeyer says AFBF strongly disagrees with the October deadline looming and the August Hill recess almost here.

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