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08
Apr

Urgent Action: Stop the Pro-Pesticide Lobby from Poisoning the Farm Bill

(Beyond Pesticides, April 9, 2008) You have an opportunity to ask your U.S. Representative to stand up for the protection of health and the environment by joining with his/her colleagues in the U.S. Congress on a letter to stop a pro-pesticide amendment in the Farm Bill, which is still under consideration in a House-Senate Agriculture conference committee. The provision, and other substitute language now floating around, stops the U.S. Department of Agriculture from curtailing hazardous pesticide use through its conservation programs, either by targeting specific contaminants that are poisoning water or hurting wildlife, or facilitating a transition to organic practices. (See March 27, 2008 Daily News) Attached below is the ‚ÄúDear Colleague‚ÄĚ letter that your Rep. received from Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Donald Payne (D-NJ) and the letter s/he is being asked to sign that will go to the Farm Bill conferees. To sign on, tell your Rep. (get contact info here) to email Rep. Holt‚Äôs aide Michele Mulder michelle.mulder@mail.house.gov or call her at (609) 750-9365.

‚ÄúDear Colleague‚ÄĚ Letter to Your Member of Congress:

Don’t Turn Back the Clock on Safer, Less-Toxic, More-Environmentally Friendly Pesticides!

Dear Colleague:

I am writing to ask you to join me on a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Agricultural Committees, urging them to support the Senate Agricultural Committees action in not including a provision passed in the House that would jeopardize the ability of conservation managers to choose the safest, least toxic, and most environmentally friendly pesticides in carrying out activities under integrated pest management and other Farm Bill programs. The provision, Section 11305 of the House-passed Farm Bill, was entitled No Discrimination Against Use of Registered Pesticide Products or Classes of Pesticide Products, and it read:

‚ÄúIn establishing priorities and evaluation criteria for the approval of plans, contracts, and agreements under title II, the Secretary of Agriculture shall not discriminate against the use of specific registered pesticide products or classes of pesticide products.‚ÄĚ

The provision, inserted at the behest of pesticide manufacturers, was met with outrage by more than 50 environmental, conservation, heath and nutrition, organic, wildlife, organic and other public interest groups. Numerous existing Farm Bill programs, encourage as they should — the use of non-toxic or less-toxic methods of pest control. The foregoing language could be interpreted to find such facilitation of safer pest control methods discriminatory as against the use of conventional pesticides, and could thus prohibit efforts to use such safer methods. This language drives Farm Bill policy on the issue of pesticide usage and environmental conservation in precisely the opposite direction from where it should be going. In a letter to the Natural Resources Defense Council dated February 8, 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed with the concerns expressed by conservation groups and stated that the EPA would be concerned if language in the House passed version of the Farm Bill could be interpreted in any way to inhibit [pesticide risk reduction].

Attached is a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, urging them to follow the lead of the Senate Agriculture Committee and remove Section 11305 from the final Farm Bill. Please join me in co-signing this important letter. If you have any further questions or would like to co-sign the letter, please contact Michelle Mulder of my staff at (609) 750-9365 or michelle.mulder@mail.house.gov.
Sincerely,

RUSH HOLT                     DONALD PAYNE
Member of Congress         Member of Congress

———————————————

Letter to the Farm Bill Conferees

The Honorable Tom Harkin
Chairman
Senate Committee on Agriculture,
Nutrition and Forestry
328A Senate Russell Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Saxby Chambliss
Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Agriculture,
Nutrition and Forestry
328A Senate Russell Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Collin Peterson
Chairman
House Committee on Agriculture
1301 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
Ranking Member
House Committee on Agriculture
1305 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Harkin, Chairman Peterson, Ranking Member Chambliss and Ranking Member Goodlatte:

We respectfully write to express our strong support for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry not including section 11305 of the House-passed Farm bill, entitled No Discrimination Against Use of Registered Pesticide Products or Classes of Pesticide Products, in the Senate bill. The provision read:

In establishing priorities and evaluation criteria for the approval of plans, contracts, and agreements under title II, the Secretary of Agriculture shall not discriminate against the use of specific registered pesticide products or classes of pesticide products.

We urge the Conference Committee to follow the lead of the Senate Agriculture Committee with respect to this issue, and leave that provision or similar provisions out of the final bill. Numerous existing farm bill programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Security Program (CSP), the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), and the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs operating at the state level, encourage the use of non-toxic or less-toxic methods of pest control The foregoing language was included in the House bill at the urging of pesticide manufacturers and, if allowed to remain in the final bill, would jeopardize the ability of conservation program managers to use farm bill funding to implement the most environmentally friendly pesticide options available. That is, EQIP and other programs that intentionally facilitate the deployment of non-toxic pesticides could be seen as discriminatory as against the use of conventional pesticides, and such facilitation would be prohibited under this language This language drives farm bill policy on the issue of pesticide usage and environmental conservation in precisely the opposite direction from where it should be going.

Attached are a letter from the Natural Resources Defense Council and a letter signed by more than 50 environmental, conservation, health and nutrition, wildlife, organic and other public interest groups, urging the Conferees to remove the House-passed Section 11305 from the final 2007 Farm bill.

We respectfully request the deletion of the House-passed Section 11305 from the final 2007 Farm bill.
Sincerely,

Groups supporting removal of pesticide discrimination provision:

American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
American Bird Conservancy
Berkshire Cooperative Association
Beyond Pesticides
Bio-Logical Pest Management, Inc.
Breast Cancer Action
Californians for Alternatives to Toxics
Californians for Pesticide Reform
California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation
Carandale Farm
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
Center for Environmental Health
Center for Food Safety
Citizens Environmental Coalition
Clean Catch
Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund
Coast Action Group
Colorado Organic Producers Association
Community Alliance with Family Farmers
Community & Children’s Advocates Against Pesticide Poisoning
The Cornucopia Institute
Defenders of Wildlife
Environment California
Environmental Defense
Environmental Working Group
Florida Organic Growers and Consumers
Food & Water Watch
Fresno Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides
Fresno Metro Ministry
Gardens of Goodness LLC
Georgia Organics
Greenpeace Toxics Campaign
Heal the Bay
Healthy Child Healthy World
Humane Society International
Humane Society of the United States
IPM Institute of North America, Inc.
Learning Disabilities Association of California
Marrone Organic Innovations, Inc.
Montana Organic Producers Cooperative
Monterey Coastkeeper
New England Small Farm Institute
New York Public Interest Research Group
Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont
Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society
Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides
Parents for a Safer Environment
Pesticide Action Network North America Regional Center
Pesticide Education Project
Pestec, IPM Provider
Physicians for Social Responsibility, Los Angeles
The Organic Center
Organic Consumers Association
Organic Farming Research Foundation
Sierra Club
Science and Environmental Health Network
Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation
Toxics Information Project
Tri-Valley CAREs
Twin Oaks Dairy LLC
Union of Concerned Scientists
Veritable Vegetable, Inc.
Virginia Association for Biological Farming

Contact: Michelle Mulder, Counsel, U.S. Representative Rush Holt, 50 Washington Road, West Windsor, New Jersey 08550, 609-750-9365 (tel.), 609-750-0618 (fax).

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