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Daily News Blog

26
Jun

Congress Asked to Help Stop Ecosystem Collapse in the Farm Bill by Preserving Local Authority to Restrict Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, June 26, 2023) In view of EPA’s failure to protect pollinators from pesticides, the lives of those essential insects, birds, and mammals are increasingly dependent on state and local laws that under threat of U.S. Congressional action in the upcoming Farm Bill.

Tell Congress: Don’t allow the Farm Bill to preempt state and local laws.

The Farm Bill covers many areas—ranging from the supplemental nutritional assistance program (SNAP) to trade—and one provision that the pesticide industry would like to include is preemption of local authority to restrict pesticide use. This attack on local governance  would undercut the local democratic process to protect public health and safety, especially important in the absence of adequate federal protection of the ecosystems that sustain life.

As Congress drafts the 2023 Farm Bill, there is an opportunity for many topics—good and bad—to be introduced. Dating back to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s, which addressed threats posed by the Great Depression and drought, the Farm Bill is an omnibus bill passed every five years. It is designed to secure a sufficient food supply, establish fair food prices for both farmers and consumers, and protect the soil and other natural resources on which farmers depend, but includes much more. Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have previously considered and rejected legislation to prohibit local governments from adopting pesticide or food production laws that are more protective than federal rules. If such language were to be incorporated into the 2023 Farm Bill as the industrial agriculture, chemical sector, and the pest control industry plan to do, it would overturn decades of precedent as well as prevent local governments from protecting their residents from hazardous chemicals in their environment. Even if a state is currently preempting local jurisdictions from restricting pesticides throughout their communities, a federal law codifying a prohibition of local rights to restrict pesticides will make it virtually impossible to restore the basic local authority to protect public health and the environment, which has historically been vested in local governments. Remember that the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991 upheld the right of local communities to restrict pesticides under current pesticide law, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

The most recent of these potential preempting pieces of the Farm Bill is the Exposing Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS Act), introduced as S. 2619/H.R. 4999 in the 117th Congress by Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Representative Ashley Hinson (R-IA), who are expected to reintroduce it soon. The EATS Act is virtually identical to the notorious “King amendment,” which former Rep. Steve King (R-IA) tried unsuccessfully to attach to the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills, generating overwhelming bipartisan opposition. An analysis of the King amendment by the Harvard Law School Animal Law & Policy Program produced a long, but not exhaustive, list of laws in every state that could be repealed by the EATS Act.

A diverse set of more than 170 groups strongly opposed the King amendment, including the National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, FreedomWorks, Fraternal Order of Police, National Farmers Union, National Dairy Producers Organization, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA, United Farm Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and National Fire Protection Association, plus hundreds of federal and state legislators (bipartisan), individual farmers, veterinary professionals, faith leaders, legal experts, and newspaper editorials including USA Today.

When it comes to pesticides applied in communities on lawns and landscapes, the language contained in a 2022 bill, H.R. 7266 “to prohibit the local regulation of pesticide use” is under consideration in the Farm Bill debate. Incorporation of such preemption language is a direct assault on nearly 200 communities across the country that have passed their own policies to restrict the use of toxic pesticides.

The fight to defend the authority of local governments to protect people and the environment has been ongoing for decades. In response to the Supreme Court’s 1991 decision in Wisconsin Pub. Intervenor v. Mortier, which found in favor of localities’ authority, the pesticide lobby immediately formed the “Coalition for Sensible Pesticide Policy,” and developed boilerplate legislative language to restrict local municipalities from passing ordinances on the use of pesticides on private property. The coalition’s lobbyists descended on states across the country, seeking, and in most cases obtaining, preemption legislation whose text was often identical to the coalition’s. Since the passage of those state laws, there have been numerous efforts to preempt local authority in states that do not prohibit local action on pesticides. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an industry-backed group, appeared to be behind a failed effort during the last two years to preempt local authority in the Maine state legislature.

As National Pollinator Week draws to a close, it is vital that communities maintain their right to restrict pesticides linked to pollinator decline and ecosystem collapse, cancer and a host of health effects, and water contamination in order to  protect their resident’s health and unique local ecosystems.

Tell Congress: Don’t allow the Farm Bill to preempt state and local laws.

 In addition to contacting your members of Congress through the above link, reach out to your local officials and ask them to sign on to a letter opposing preemption language in the Farm Bill. Click here for a sample letter that you can use to contact your local officials. Only local officials may sign on to this letter.

Letter to U.S. Representative and Senators:

As we observe Pollinator Week, we must recognize that in view of EPA’s failure to protect pollinators from pesticides, the lives of those essential insects, birds, and mammals are increasingly dependent on state and local laws.

The Farm Bill covers many areas—ranging from the supplemental nutritional assistance program (SNAP) to trade—and one provision that the pesticide industry would like to include is preemption of state and local authorities—which would undercut the local democratic process to protect public health and safety.

As Congress drafts the 2023 Farm Bill, there is an opportunity for many topics—good and bad—to be introduced. Dating back to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s, which addressed threats posed by the Great Depression and drought, the Farm Bill is an omnibus bill passed every five years. It is designed to secure a sufficient food supply, establish fair food prices for both farmers and consumers, and protect the soil and other natural resources on which farmers depend, but includes much more. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have previously introduced legislation to prohibit local governments from adopting pesticide or food production laws that are more protective than federal rules. If such language were to be incorporated into the 2023 Farm Bill as some plan to do, it would overturn decades of precedent as well as prevent local governments from protecting their residents from hazardous chemicals in their environment.

The most recent of these potential preempting pieces of the Farm Bill is the Exposing Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS Act), introduced as S. 2619/H.R. 4999 in the 117th Congress by Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Representative Ashley Hinson (R-IA), who are expected to reintroduce it soon. The EATS Act is virtually identical to the notorious “King amendment,” which former Rep. Steve King (R-IA) tried unsuccessfully to attach to the 2014 and
2018 Farm Bills, generating overwhelming bipartisan opposition. An analysis of the King amendment by the Harvard Law School Animal Law & Policy Program produced a long, but not exhaustive, list of laws in every state that could be repealed by the EATS Act.

A diverse set of more than 170 groups strongly opposed the King amendment, including the National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, FreedomWorks, Fraternal Order of Police, National Farmers Union, National Dairy Producers Organization, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA, United Farm Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and National Fire Protection Association, plus hundreds of federal and state legislators (bipartisan), individual farmers, veterinary professionals, faith leaders, legal experts, and newspaper editorials including USA Today. Incorporation of such preemption language is a direct assault on nearly 200 communities.

Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have considered and rejected legislation to prohibit local governments from adopting pesticide or food production laws that are more protective than federal rules. If such language were to be incorporated into the 2023 Farm Bill as the industrial agriculture, chemical sector, and the pest control industry have advocated, it would overturn decades of precedent as well as prevent local governments from protecting their residents from hazardous chemicals in their environment. This would be an attack on the nearly 200 communities that have passed or plan to pass their own policies to restrict the use of toxic pesticides. Communities must maintain the right to restrict pesticides linked to pollinator decline and ecosystem collapse, cancer and a host of health effects, and water contamination in order to protect their resident’s health and unique local ecosystems.

Please oppose any attempts to introduce into the Farm Bill any language that preempts state and local authorities.

Share

4 Responses to “Congress Asked to Help Stop Ecosystem Collapse in the Farm Bill by Preserving Local Authority to Restrict Pesticides”

  1. 1
    Cathie Wanner Ernst Says:

    Protect consumers

  2. 2
    Bridget W Irons Says:

    The communities affected must be able to keep their right to protection from harmful pesticides.

  3. 3
    priscilla martinez Says:

    We need to take better care of what is left of our environment, for wildlife, marine life, plant life, and people.

  4. 4
    priscilla martinez Says:

    Animals are God’s creations, we need to take better care of them, and their environment.

Leave a Reply

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