John Deere tractor in field with sprayer

(Photo: Iowa Soybean Association)

Legislation provides time to comply

October 6, 2022 | Jeff Hutton

Providing farmers more notice and more time in order to comply with last-minute pesticide restrictions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is at the heart of new legislation being proposed in Washington, D.C.

The Farmers Deserve Notification Act would prevent the EPA from canceling, suspending or enacting new restrictions on pesticides without first providing 270-day advance notice in the Federal Register. The legislation will allow the notice to be waived by a majority vote of the independent Scientific Advisory Panel at the EPA should immediate action be necessary.

More notice, more time to plan

Reps. Cindy Axne and Jim Baird, of Iowa and Indiana, respectively, are co-sponsoring the legislation because they argue farmers often make decisions on inputs several months in advance, and last-minute restrictions can impact their ability to grow, especially with the recent supply chain bottlenecks.

“I routinely hear from Iowa farmers about the need for certainty and predictability, especially with the recent supply chain issues stemming from the pandemic,” says Axne. “Rather than having to navigate last-minute restrictions on their inputs, this bipartisan and commonsense legislation will ensure farmers have enough notice on any modifications to their pest management practices while maintaining the EPA’s ability to act immediately when justified. The EPA plays an important role in protecting our environment, and I’ll continue to support practical ideas to ensure their efforts work with, not against, Iowa’s family farmers.”

“For the last two years, our nation’s producers have been forced to navigate supply chain issues and skyrocketing input costs which have seriously challenged their ability to feed and clothe the American people,” says Baird. “The EPA’s creation and rapid implementation of new regulations only further disrupts this vital industry, forcing farmers to adapt quickly at the detriment of their crops and conservation practices. Our producers need time to find alternatives which is why I’m proud to work with Rep. Cindy Axne to require the EPA to give our producers the time they need to adapt so they can continue supplying a safe and affordable food supply without interruption.”

Positive reaction

More than a dozen commodity organizations across the country, including the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), supported the proposed legislation.

“Knowing which tools will be available to manage crop production pressures, including weeds, is critical to the success of soybean farmers,” says ISA President Randy Miller. “Different soy production challenges exist in Iowa and across the 30-plus state growing region. We look forward to this bill’s swift passage to ensure farmers have adequate time to make informed decisions on which options and opportunities will best address their unique production needs.”

Brad Doyle, president of the American Soybean Association (ASA) says regulation without warning is the wrong way to do business. This legislation, he says, will help farmers reach compliance and help their bottom line.

“It is always heartening when Congress comes together in a bipartisan manner to protect the rights of farmers. EPA’s trend of imposing overnight restrictions on tools vital to growers has been disruptive and at times very costly to farmers working in a business that is very time sensitive. The farm economy can’t turn on a dime, and we appreciate Rep. Baird and Rep. Axne for recognizing growers need for advanced notice to implement regulatory decisions.”