ARA Testifies Before House Committee On The Impact Of EPA’s Regulatory Overreach

As Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) led a recent hearing and visited with ARA Chairman Billy Pirkle (right) after the meeting.
As Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) led a recent hearing and visited with ARA Chairman Billy Pirkle (right) after the meeting.

Many agricultural retailers feel the impact and expense of unnecessary and burdensome regulations on a daily basis. A growing number of these regulations are the result of recent actions taken by EPA. Today, ARA Chairman Billy Pirkle addressed several of these regulations and their negative impact on the U.S. agriculture industry and economy at a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Pirkle also serves as the Senior Director for Environmental, Health and Safety for Crop Production Services (CPS).

To begin his testimony, Pirkle explained the important role agricultural retailers play in the production of crops needed to feed the nation and the rest of the world. He explained the variety of crop inputs retailers provide to their farmer customers and the additional services and consultation they offer to help farmers make the most environmentally friendly choices on their operations.

One of the first issues Pirkle raised before the House Committee was EPA’s decision to counteract a longstanding regulatory exemption for agricultural retailers and support the decision of the agency’s Region 4 office (covering the Southeast United States) when they began issuing citations to agricultural retail facilities for failure to report under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) when fertilizer was blended at the retail facility. The EPCRA statute actually applies to those who manufacture fertilizer and specifically exempts “fertilizer held for sale by a retailer to the ultimate consumer.” However, now EPA stated that custom blending of fertilizer was the same as manufacturing fertilizer.

“Nearly all agricultural retailers custom blend types of fertilizer at the retail site for farmer customers because farmers do not have the equipment to blend in the field. Furthermore, blending fertilizer is a different process than manufacturing fertilizer,” explained Pirkle in his testimony.  “In 1987, EPA concluded that Congress’s intent with EPCRA was to exempt a retail facility from these provisions because the general public was already aware of the retail sale and application of fertilizers.”

Later, Pirkle also explained that if a retailer had to meet all EPCRA reporting requirements, their permitting requirements under other environmental laws could also change. Trying to comply with all these requirements could cost a retailer an additional $30,000 per year, plus a $6,000 annual update.

Another key issue Pirkle addressed in his testimony was the requirement that pesticide applicators obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Clean Water Act (CWA) permit to conduct any pesticide applications. Pirkle explained that this is unnecessary since pesticides are already evaluated thoroughly by EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The pesticide label, which includes use instructions for different crops, geographic regions and weather conditions, is approved by EPA, and the instructions are based on mountains of health and environmental data.

“A new NPDES permitting system would result in little to no environmental benefit, but could cost the industry millions of dollars to comply with these new requirements and leave commercial applicators and their farmer customers vulnerable to citizen suits,” stated Pirkle. “Legislation has been introduced called the ‘Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act’ (H.R. 872) that would exempt FIFRA-compliant pesticide applications from CWA permitting requirements.”

The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act is currently part of the House version of the Farm Bill. Pirkle explained to the Committee that it is critical for the House to take action on the 2012 Farm Bill prior to the upcoming August recess to allow time to complete negotiations with the Senate on a final conference agreement.

In Pirkle’s role at CPS, he works with his company’s staff and management to give direction for the regulatory support and oversight of regulatory programs for all of the company’s retail operations. His first-hand experience and regulatory knowledge made his testimony to the House Committee extremely valuable.

Other examples of EPA’s Regulatory Overreach that Pirkle mentioned in his testimony included the following key issues under the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.

  • Clean Water Act (CWA) Issue:
  1. EPA’s proposed spray drift guidance document that changes the legal standard found in FIFRA to an essentially zero-tolerance spray drift standard.
  2. EPA’s proposed guidance document to expand jurisdiction of the CWA without obtaining the necessary statutory changes or going through the formal rulemaking process.
  3. Numeric Nutrient Criteria regulations in Florida, Mississippi River Basin and the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Clean Air Act (CAA) Issues:
  1. Dust regulation in the agriculture industry.
  2. Greenhouse Gas Regulations and the increased compliance costs to the suppliers of agricultural retailers, which would be passed along to the retailer and farm.

In conclusion, Pirkle spoke on behalf of agricultural retailers asking Congress to hold regular oversight hearings regarding federal agency regulatory and enforcement activities. He also requested that Congress take necessary legislative action to prevent EPA from over-reaching its statutory authorities in the areas highlighted in his testimony.

ARA and its member companies are strong stewards of the environment and continue to operate in an environmentally safe manner. ARA welcomes the opportunity to continue to work with the Committee, Congress and EPA to provide any needed statutory clarifications to improve regulations.

Video of Pirkle’s verbal testimony before the House committee is available here. Pirkle begins speaking at about 49:20 in the video. Click here to read Pirkle’s complete written testimony.

Leave a Reply

Management Stories

ManagementMACA 2014: The State Of The Agricultural Industry, And Then Some
October 9, 2014
The trade association’s annual gathering featured speakers from across agriculture and beyond. Read More
StewardshipA Multi-Layered Approach To Water Quality
October 6, 2014
Illinois event highlights research and technology designed to better monitor and improve water quality — and the benefits of cooperative, coordinated effort. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
ManagementRussia Bans U.S. And EU Ag Product Imports In Ukraine Sanctions Battle
August 7, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned the import of agricultural goods from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia. Read More

Trending Articles

Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More

Latest News

CropLife 100ValueAct Buys Stake In Fertilizer Dealer Agrium
October 30, 2014
ValueAct has bought 8.2 million shares in Calgary, Alberta-based Agrium, making them the second largest investor in the fertilizer dealer. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
StewardshipUSDA To Provide $4 Million For Honey Bee Habitat
October 29, 2014
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that more than $4 million in technical and financial assistance will be provided to Read More
Crop InputsValent Launches New Low VOC ProGibb LV Plus Plant Growt…
October 29, 2014
ProGibb LV Plus PGR is a high-potency, liquid gibberellic acid formulation designed to comply with California’s new air quality standards for high volatile organic compound agricultural products. Read More
Crop InputsBayer CropScience Acquires Certain DuPont Crop Protecti…
October 29, 2014
Bayer CropScience and DuPont Crop Protection have signed an agreement for Bayer to purchase certain DuPont Crop Protection Land Management assets in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Read More
ManagementWest Central Names New President
October 29, 2014
West Central’s board of directors have announced their unanimous decision to name Milan Kucerak President and CEO-elect following Jeff Stroburg’s retirement at the end of the fiscal year. Read More
InsecticidesValent U.S.A., MGK Form Marketing Agreement
October 24, 2014
Valent has formed an agreement with Minneapolis-based MGK to manage the marketing and sales of MGK’s crop protection line of insect control products within the U.S. beginning April 1, 2015. Read More
StewardshipFlorida’s 4R Advocate Keeps Improving
October 24, 2014
Florida farmer Alan Jones uses the 4R principles of nutrient stewardship as the core of his fertility program, which allows him to maximize production and keep costs in check. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Named One Of The World’s Best Multinational …
October 23, 2014
Monsanto ranked No. 8 in the world’s largest annual study of workplace excellence that identifies the top 25 best multinational companies in terms of workplace culture. Read More
Crop InputsArysta Hires Former Agri-Chem, CPS Employee For Delta S…
October 23, 2014
New Territory Sales Manager Mark Peel’s primary role will focus on working with growers regarding fungicides in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Appointments In Plant Food Division
October 22, 2014
GROWMARK, Inc. has announced the three key staff changes in its Plant Food Division. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Appoints New VP Of Finance And Risk Management
October 22, 2014
Wade Mittelstadt has been named GROWMARK Vice President, Financial and Risk Mangement, effective December 1, 2014. Read More
FungicidesEPA Approves BASF In-Furrow Corn Fungicide
October 22, 2014
Field trials show Xanthion In-furrow fungicide provides more rapid emergence, extended residual control and improved seedling health than untreated crops. Read More
EquipmentAgraScout App Available At No Cost To Universities
October 21, 2014
AgraScout, a fast and easy to use mobile crop scouting app, is now available at no cost to University students, Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Program To Provide Relief To Farmers Affe…
October 21, 2014
The USDA has implemented a new Farm Bill initiative that will provide relief to farmers affected by severe weather, including drought. Read More
ManagementGreenfield Scholars Program Aims To Sustain Agronomy Wo…
October 21, 2014
The program encourages talented students to study agronomy, crop and soil sciences while cultivating networks to develop the necessary workforce to sustain the profession. Read More
Paul SchrimpfPrecision Ag: Taking It To The Hill
October 21, 2014
A new coalition took the good news message of precision agriculture to Washington, DC, last month. Read More
ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million In Small Business Research Gran…
October 21, 2014
The grants will provide high quality, advanced research and development that will lead to technological innovations and solutions for American agriculture. Read More