CropLife America (CLA) and the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) expressed concern about the potential impacts of new Clean Water Act (CWA) proposed regulations on crop protection product applications and agriculture.

Proposed regulations were released on March 25 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps).

CLA and ARA are conducting review of the regulations and indicated both intend to submit comments when the rulemaking is published in the Federal Register. Their basic concerns are quite similar.

As noted by CLA, The “waters of the U.S.” rulemaking intends to clarify protections under the CWA and includes definitions of “navigable” rivers, lakes, streams, coastal areas, wetlands and other water bodies. Proposed regulations released by EPA and the Corps may greatly expand these definitions to include additional bodies of water, and influence the jurisdictional reach of all programs of the CWA, creating additional unnecessary regulatory burdens for the agricultural community and applicators of pesticide products. The rulemaking also impacts federal control over certain crop protection product applications near bodies of water and enforcement of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permits for pesticides.

Richard Gupton, ARA senior vice-president public policy and counsel, said, “We were pleased to see an effort by the Environmental Protection Agency to maintain agricultural exemptions under the new rules proposed for the Clean Water Act; however, ARA remains troubled by the possible impact of an expanded definition of ‘navigable waters of the United States.’ The jurisdictional reach of the draft rules creates additional, unnecessary regulatory burdens for agricultural retailers and pesticide applicators by exerting federal control over certain crop protection product applications near bodies of water and enforcement of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permits for pesticides.”

Jay Vroom, CLA president and CEO, said, “The jurisdictional reach of the Clean Water Act is the foundation of federal control over private property and business activity. The proposal could infringe upon the rights of states. CLA believes that states must be more closely consulted on the management of their waters.

“It is also unfortunate and ironic that these proposed regulations, which threaten to unduly impact agriculture, were released on National Agriculture Day, an occasion to celebrate the great efforts of America’s farmers and ranchers.”

The two groups have urged congressional lawmakers to move forward on the passage of H.R. 935, The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2013, which would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the CWA to clarify congressional intent and eliminate the requirement of NPDES permits for the use of pesticides approved for use under FIFRA. H.R. 935 was passed by the House Agriculture Committee by a voice in March month, and by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee earlier in the 113th Congress.