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

Management2016 CTIC Cover Crop Survey: 33% Report ROI From Cover Crops
July 28, 2016
Insight from 2,020 farmers from across the country reflected enthusiasm for cover crops and—for the fourth year in a row—found Read More
ManagementNew Rabobank Report Calls for Farmer ROI Focus
July 25, 2016
As U.S. row crop farmers brace themselves for a third year of negative margins, Rabobank believes farmers must lower the Read More
ManagementGROWMARK Meeting Visit, Company Takeover Updates, and RNC Invite
July 22, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent speaking engagement at GROWMARK’s eastern event, crop protection company merger rumors, Read More
ManagementLand O’Lakes Announces SUSTAIN Business Unit, Other Changes
July 20, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced the formal organization of a new business unit, SUSTAIN, and its leadership. SUSTAIN will focus Read More
Trending Articles
Southeast Farmers Coop - Finished Building
Retail FacilitiesNew Stueve Facilities Offer Ag Retailers Speed, Accuracy
July 9, 2016
Leading the industry in planning and constructing dry fertilizer storage and chemical warehouse solutions, Stueve Construction helped three ag retailers Read More
Heritage Cooperative
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Designs State-Of-The-Art Facility For Heritage Cooperative
July 4, 2016
Heritage Cooperative in Marysville, OH, needed an efficient liquid, dry and grain facility to serve the many needs of their Read More
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To Explore IT Solutions
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Latest News
FertilizerGypsum Added To List Of Conservation Practices
July 28, 2016
Crop farmers in a growing number of states may be eligible for financial assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Read More
Management2016 CTIC Cover Crop Survey: 33% Report ROI From Cover …
July 28, 2016
Insight from 2,020 farmers from across the country reflected enthusiasm for cover crops and—for the fourth year in a row—found Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesStudy: Fall Weed Controls Can Make Significant Impact O…
July 28, 2016
An article published in the latest issue of the journal Weed Science shows that adopting harvest-time and post-harvest weed controls Read More
InsecticidesSyngenta: Beware Of Early Stinkbug Threat To Soybeans
July 28, 2016
With the record warm temperatures this past winter and confirmations from early entomologist reports, Syngenta encourages growers to monitor stinkbug Read More
Peanut field
Crop InputsVerdesian Introduces New Inoculant For Peanuts
July 28, 2016
As planning begins for the next growing season, Verdesian Life Sciences adds Primo Power CL, a new liquid inoculant, to Read More
Soil Young Corn
Crop InputsSmithsonian: 5 Things to Know About New GMO Labeling Bi…
July 27, 2016
On July 14, the House of Representatives passed a bill requiring large food companies to label products containing genetically modified Read More
Palmer pigweed in soybean stubble
HerbicidesSpecial Issue Of Weed Science Explores Human Aspects Of…
July 27, 2016
Weeds that evolve resistance to herbicides are a serious threat to global agricultural production. In this Special Issue of Weed Science, Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100CHS Businesses In Washington, Idaho Combining For Great…
July 27, 2016
As full-service ag retailers, CHS Primeland and CHS Farmers Co-op collectively serve farmers and other customers in 15 counties in Read More
Storage Tanks at Nachurs
Crop InputsNACHURS Joins Field to Market
July 27, 2016
NACHURS announced today that it has joined Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, a leading multi-stakeholder initiative working Read More
Illinois Researchers
FertilizerMeasure Of Age In Soil Nitrogen Could Help Precision Ag…
July 26, 2016
What’s good for crops is not always good for the environment. Nitrogen, a key nutrient for plants, can cause problems Read More
Kochia
Crop InputsNufarm Launches New Herbicide for Resistant Kochia
July 25, 2016
Nufarm introduces Scorch herbicide for U.S. farmers and ranchers combating a broad range of troublesome broadleaf weeds. A unique premix Read More
ManagementNew Rabobank Report Calls for Farmer ROI Focus
July 25, 2016
As U.S. row crop farmers brace themselves for a third year of negative margins, Rabobank believes farmers must lower the Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsBloomberg: Syngenta-Chem China Deal on Track for Regula…
July 25, 2016
Syngenta AG, which has agreed to be taken over by China National Chemical Corp. for $43 billion, said talks with Read More
ManagementGROWMARK Meeting Visit, Company Takeover Updates, and R…
July 22, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent speaking engagement at GROWMARK’s eastern event, crop protection company merger rumors, Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto: EU Approves Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Imports
July 22, 2016
Monsanto Co. announced today that the European Commission has granted import approval for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans. This milestone Read More
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland
Crop InputsSyngenta Announces Alfalfa Seed Split Off
July 22, 2016
On September 1, 2016, Syngenta will transfer sales and distribution of alfalfa seed to the NEXGROW branded business that is Read More
Dow DuPont
Crop InputsDuPont, Dow Shareholders Approve Merger
July 21, 2016
DuPont and The Dow Chemical Company announced that, at their respective special meetings of stockholders held today, stockholders of both Read More
ManagementLand O’Lakes Announces SUSTAIN Business Unit, Oth…
July 20, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced the formal organization of a new business unit, SUSTAIN, and its leadership. SUSTAIN will focus Read More