House passes Red Tape Reduction Act after ARA testimony

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Michelle Hummel ARA applauded the House of Representatives' decision this summer to pass the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act (H.R. 4078). This decision came just a few days after ARA Chairman Billy Pirkle, and several individuals from other industries, testified to the negative economic impact of excessive regulations at a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Pirkle, who also serves as the senior director for Environmental, Health and Safety for Crop Production Services, primarily focused his testimony on the growing number of regulations resulting from recent EPA actions. H.R. 4078 provides comprehensive regulatory reform legislation that would streamline the time consuming permitting process, bring transparency to rules issued by agencies as a result of an out of court agreement with environmentalists, and prohibit agencies from issuing a cascade of regulations when a change of administration occurs.

Prior to passage of the Red Tape Reduction legislation, ARA and many other organizations, also sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to pass the bill for the following key reasons.

1. It would tackle “Sue and Settle,” a legal tactic where friendly advocacy groups work with allies in regulatory agencies to write new rules with little public input.

2. It would keep administrations from rushing through new major rules during a President’s lame duck period.

3. It would stop regulators from issuing the most-significant and costly rules until the unemployment rate falls to 6 percent.

Through ARA’s public policy efforts and the valuable testimony of ARA Chairman Billy Pirkle, ARA Chairman Billy Pirkle (right) testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and visited with Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). legislation to reduce costly and unnecessary regulations is moving forward. ARA appreciates the time and effort of Chairman Pirkle to make sure retailers’ needs were voiced before members of the House. A few key issues that Pirkle focused on in his testimony included:

1. EPA’s decision to counteract a long-standing regulatory exemption for agricultural retailers when they supported a regional EPA office that 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.

2. A requirement that pesticide applicators obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Clean Water Act (CWA) permit to conduct any pesticide applications.

3. EPA’s proposed spray drift guidance document that changes the legal standard found in FIFRA to an essentially zero-tolerance spray drift standard.

4. EPA’s proposed guidance document to expand jurisdiction of the CWA without obtaining the necessary statutory changes or going through the formal rulemaking process.

5. Numeric Nutrient Criteria regulations in Florida, the Mississippi River Basin and the Chesapeake Bay.

6. Dust regulation in the agriculture industry.

7. Greenhouse Gas Regulations and the increased compliance costs to the suppliers of agricultural retailers, which are passed along to the retailer and farmer.

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 Congress and EPA to provide any needed statutory clarifications to improve regulations. For more information, visit

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