WASHINGTON, June 29, 2017 - The Senate Agriculture Committee has approved a bill to reauthorize the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act, which requires companies to pay fees to help fund registration applications and reviews conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The measure cleared the committee by voice vote Thursday. After the vote, Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said in a joint statement that the reauthorization was a useful exercise.
“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,” they said.
The PRIA bill differs somewhat from the House version that passed that chamber in March. The House bill would reauthorize PRIA for seven years, while the Senate bill would only reauthorize it for three. Because of the shorter time frame, the Senate bill does not include two 5 percent increases in some of the registration service fees contained in the House bill. The text of the Senate bill will not be publicly available for a couple of days, Senate Agriculture Committee spokesperson Meghan Cline said.
Cline also said the three-year reauthorization was a compromise reached by Democrats and Republicans on the committee and the PRIA Coalition, a group of industry, environmental and farmworker protection groups who helped craft the legislation.
Members of the coalition, which submitted a letter in favor of the Senate bill, include CropLife America, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Farmworker Justice, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization and the Consumer Specialty Products Association.
In a brief statement, CropLife President and CEO Jay Vroom said the Senate bill “will continue the tradition of providing a source of stable funding for EPA registration activities and related programs, while ensuring regulatory certainty for chemical registrants over the life of this third reauthorization. I appreciate the support of the industry fees coalition and we look forward to working closely with Senate leadership as we take the next steps toward eventual enactment.”
CropLife’s Beau Greenwood said before the committee vote that the coalition would be pushing for a vote on the Senate floor in July, which would give the House and Senate time to resolve differences between the two bills before PRIA’s authorization expires Sept. 30.
The bill would increase the number of categories subject to fees – adding additional experimental use permit categories and additional end-use product and manufacturing use categories, for example – and sets aside $500,000 for Good Laboratory Practices inspections, $500,000 for pesticide safety education, and at least $1 million “to enhance scientific and regulatory activities relating to worker protection, with an emphasis on field-worker populations in the United States.”
Although the committee passed the bill by voice vote, one senator brought up concerns about rules that have been delayed by EPA – the certified pesticide applicator rule, which sets standards for applicators of restricted-use pesticides, and the farm worker protection rule, which “is aimed at reducing the risk of pesticide poisoning and injury” to the nation’s 2 million farm workers, according to EPA.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., offered an amendment that would require that any changes to those rules be subject to “a negotiated rulemaking process so that we can ensure that all members of our farming community are safe when they use pesticides.”
The amendment, which she withdrew in order to work with Roberts before the bill comes to the floor, also would “make certain that no one under the age of 18” would be able to work with restricted-use pesticides and “ensure that any worker who has suffered an injury from exposure to a pesticide would be able to have a designated representative to help them navigate their care when they get treated.”
Both the age and designated representative provisions have been controversial. EPA recently extended the effective date of the certified applicator rule to May 22, 2018, and has also announced it would extend the effective date of the farm worker protection rule, but did not specify a new compliance date.
Roberts pledged to work with Gillibrand on her concerns.
Also at the Thursday meeting, the committee voted 16-5 to approve the nomination of J. Christopher Giancarlo to be the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Giancarlo is currently acting chairman.
The nomination cleared the committee with minimal opposition. Only five Democrats –
Gillibrand, and senators Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Patrick Leahy (Vt.) – voted against him, though none of them said why. Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow said she appreciated Giancarlo’s commitment to implement the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.
“I’m pleased our committee has given the green light to full Senate consideration of Mr. Giancarlo’s nomination,” Roberts said. “As evidenced by his testimony at our recent hearing about his visits to numerous farms and livestock operations, Mr. Giancarlo demonstrates an understanding of and commitment to fostering a functional marketplace for all participants, and that most certainly includes folks in rural America.”
Eighteen agricultural organizations wrote to the committee June 21 to support Giancarlo’s nomination as chairman, commending him “for the considerable amount of time and effort he has devoted to understanding the agriculture sector and its use of the derivatives markets.”
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