National debate over pesticide use has united farmers across the United States. Over the past several months, the Environmental Protection Agency has been attacked by agricultural lobbyists and Congressmen in Washington. Politicians claim that the EPA has been overly regulatory, and their zeal to enforce environmental regulations comes at the expense of American farmers. The U.S. House recently passed legislation negating the need for additional permits when spraying near bodies of water.
The struggle over the EPA and environmental regulations is also being fought in the courts. The court challenge revolves around the Endangered Species Act, which requires the EPA to consult with other federal agencies before approving pesticides that could impact endangered species. Some environmental groups claim that the EPA has been negligent with this consultation and has approved hundreds of pesticides that endanger animals. The lawsuit seeks federal protection for over 200 animal species and, if successful, would ban the use of over 300 pesticides; a ban which many farmers say would put them out of business.
Under fire by both agricultural groups and environmental groups, the EPA continues to defend its record in Congress. Earlier in the week, EPA officials assured lawmakers that they had no interest in driving farmers out of business. In addition, they defended their pesticide regulations, claiming that their agency conducts extensive tests before final approval.
The final decision on pesticides, however, looks to be a long way away. Given Congress’ recent attacks on the EPA, it seems unlikely that there will be more restrictive pesticide regulations in the near future and a lawsuit could take years to work its way through the courts.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer