The National Cotton Council expressed its gratitude to North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan on Thursday for her submission of an amendment to the 2012 farm bill that would reduce the regulatory burden on producers and reaffirm the primacy of the Federal Insecticide Rodenticide and Act (FIFRA) in regulating pesticide applications, including those over and near bodies of water.

The amendment includes the language of H.R. 872, which was passed by the House in March 2011 and was approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee.

The letter from NCC President/CEO Mark Lange thanked her for her leadership and stated that U.S. cotton’s central organization strongly supports her amendment and looks forward to working with her to ensure its adoption on the Senate floor.

The letter noted that the requirement for producers to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for certain pesticide applications, as mandated under National Cotton Council v. EPA, adds unnecessary, duplicative and costly requirements for farms already operating on the margins and which are already in compliance with FIFRA pesticide use restrictions. Since the inception of the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972, water quality concerns from pesticide applications have been addressed during the registration and labeling process under FIFRA.

“Pesticides must undergo a minimum of 125 safety tests -- including impacts to aquatic environments -- before they receive a registration for use,” Lange said. “Permitting under the CWA is duplicative regulation which will burden applicators with high costs and liability without providing additional environmental protection.”

The letter said EPA estimates that NPDES permit requirements will affect about 365,000 pesticide applicators nationwide that perform 5.6 million applications annually. Further, EPA estimates it will cost $50 million and require more than a million hours per year to implement.  Industry cost estimates are much higher. The permit’s complex compliance requirements will impose additional burdens on thousands of small businesses, communities, counties, and state and federal agencies legally responsible for pest control, and expose them to liability through citizen suit provisions in the CWA.