Washington, DC—U.S. farmers would face burdensome new requirements under a recent decision on the Clean Water Act (CWA) issued by the 6th Circuit Court, and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) has joined an amicus brief in support of petitioners seeking a re-hearing of this ruling.
The court declared that pesticide sprayers and nozzles are point sources and that all residues and excesses of pesticides that ultimately finds its way into water after the beneficial use is completed are “pollutants” under the CWA. Since the passage of the CWA in 1972 and major reforms of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in 1972, EPA has never required National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for the application of pesticides. Farmers have understood for decades that the FIFRA label is the law.
The federal court rulings misinterpreted the current regulatory framework in place for pest and natural resource management activities, subjecting farmers to redundant regulation and inviting unnecessary litigation. The ability to continue to effectively carry out necessary farming activities in a timely manner has been jeopardized.
“The ruling by the 6th Circuit Court would jeopardize the ability of farmers to respond to in a timely manner to pest infestations that could destroy their crops, while at the same time swamping government agencies administering the program,” said NCFC President Charles F. Conner. “We are disappointed that the EPA did not ask for a rehearing on this petition, since the agency went through a long rulemaking process to arrive at the exemption in 2007.”
The Court’s ruling is set to take effect in one week, on April 16, 2009; EPA has asked the Court for a two-year stay, since the agency is currently unprepared to handle immediate implementation. Unfortunately, any efforts to staying the court’s mandate, while necessary if review is not granted, will not resolve the regulatory debacle created in this case.
NCFC is a national association representing America’s farmer cooperatives. There are over 2,500 farmer cooperatives across the U.S. whose members include a majority of our nation’s more than 2 million farmers, ranchers and growers. These farmer cooperative businesses handle, process, and market agricultural commodities and related products; furnish farm supplies; and provide credit and associated financial services. Earnings from these activities are returned to their members on a patronage basis. Farmer cooperatives also provide jobs for nearly 300,000 Americans, many in rural areas, with a combined payroll of over $8 billion.
Additional information about NCFC can be found at http://www.ncfc.org.