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SENATE AG COMMITTEE CHAIR ROBERTS' OPENING COMMENTS AT PESTICIDE HEARING
Source: Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry news release

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today held a hearing to review issues related to pesticide registrations under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, as well as the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act.

The hearing, titled "Pesticide Registration under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act: Providing Stakeholders with Certainty through the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act," featured two panels of witnesses consisting of federal government officials and stakeholders.

Below are Chairman Roberts' remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Good morning. I call this meeting of the Senate Committee on Agriculture to order.

Twenty-four years ago, a Congressman wrote, "One of the critical tools used by producers to enhance their ability to produce the world's most abundant, most affordable food supply is pesticides."

The author of those words in 1993 was Representative Pat Roberts, from the 1st District of Kansas.

In that same article, I discussed reforms to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, or "FIFRA" needed at the time to improve, among other things, re-registration of chemistries.

Today, the Committee will cover these same issues critically important to agriculture with regard to providing farmers - and as a consequence our nation's consumers - with the necessary crop protection tools to prevent, manage, and eradicate devastating pests and plant diseases that threaten our food supply.

In my travels throughout Kansas talking to producers - and even most recently at the field hearing our Committee held in Michigan - a consistent message shared with our Committee is that farmers, ranchers, and rural America want regulatory certainty.

The hearing today will touch on that theme as well as cover a variety of issues including, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and pesticide registration processes.

The Committee will hear from two panels of witnesses consisting of government officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture, as well as a panel of stakeholders to discuss these issues, what works well, and what challenges remain.

EPA has the primary responsibility for regulating the sale, use, and distribution of pesticides. EPA carries out this responsibility through FIFRA, a licensing statute, which requires EPA to review and register the use of pesticide products.

Today's hearing is a reminder of this Committee's responsibility and my personal commitment to conduct business through regular order and in a transparent manner.

Related to FIFRA, this Committee has legislative work ahead of us with the reauthorization of the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act - or PRIA.

PRIA, while technical in nature, is critically important with assisting both EPA in carrying out administrative functions and industry that relies upon timely pesticide registration decisions to get products on the market and in the hands of farmers.

PRIA expires at the end of this fiscal year. And, with that deadline in mind, it is my hope that today's hearing will lay the groundwork for Committee action on advancing PRIA this work period.

There is widespread support for PRIA among the registrant community, which includes agricultural, non-agricultural use, labor and environmental advocates. Illustrating this is a letter from the PRIA coalition addressed to our Committee expressing support for the legislation and urging swift Committee action.

We know that many rely heavily upon timely and predictable registration decisions. It is important that we get PRIA across the finish line, not only to provide certainty to the industry, but also to provide new products to growers for crop protection and to consumers to protect public health.

As I've said before, U.S. farmers and ranchers will need to feed a growing population - 9 billion people. In order to meet that demand, it will be extremely important to provide certainty and eliminate any regulatory barriers that might challenge farmers from meeting this goal.

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses. With that, I recognize Senator Stabenow for any remarks.


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