President Donald Trump’s first full year in office provided many positive changes within key federal agencies that directly impact agricultural retailers’ and distributors’ day-to-day operations.
Looking back on 2017, the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) saw a shift away from heightened enforcement efforts to the beginning stages of extensive outreach efforts focused on compliance assistance for regulated industries. Here’s a summary of public policy actions impacting agricultural retailers in 2017.
Executive Orders: Focus on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs
In his first week in office, President Trump issued Executive Order 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.” For every new regulation issued, the executive order required at least two prior regulations to be identified for elimination. The goal was to prevent overregulation, which has a negative impact on the nation’s economy.
According to the White House, in the first eight months of 2017, federal agencies issued 67 deregulatory actions and three regulatory actions. This effort is reported to have created more than $8.1 billion in present-value cost savings for regulated industries and U.S. consumers.
On Feb. 24, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Agenda.” This executive order directed the head of each federal agency to designate an official as its regulatory reform officer (RRO). The RRO chairs a regulatory reform task force to identify regulations that eliminate or inhibit job creation; are outdated, unnecessary or ineffective; impose costs exceeding benefits; or create inconsistencies or otherwise interfere with regulatory reform initiatives and policies.
EPA Launches “Back to the Basics” Agenda
On April 13, 2018, Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), launched his “Back to the Basics” agenda, which reflects efforts by the Trump administration to refocus federal agencies to their intended missions, returns power to the states and creates an economic environment where jobs can grow. The agenda focused on the three e’s: protecting the environment, sensible regulations that allow for economic growth and engaging with state and local partners.
In 2017, ARA worked closely with EPA to help steer the agency to a science- and risk-based approach. ARA has also collaborated with EPA and a broad industry coalition on restoring cooperative federalism with the states and impacted stakeholders, as well as the EPA Regulatory Reform Task Force, to undergo extensive reviews of misaligned regulatory actions.
Additionally, EPA declared that the “sue and settle” era was over at EPA. This may mean fewer regulatory requirements through litigation.
In April 2017, EPA issued a request for public comments on which rules should be targeted that were not working for the regulatory community. ARA submitted comments urging the EPA’s regulatory reform agenda to include the following:
- Restoring the principle of scientific risk-based regulation as required by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)
- Restoring science and predictability to the pesticide registration process
- National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) pesticide general permitting requirements
- Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rescind and replace
- Pesticide Registration Improvement Act
- Annual pesticide production reports
- Agricultural Worker Protection Standard
- Certified applicator and training rules
- Risk Management Program (RMP)
- SARA Tier II Reports (40 CFR 370.20)
- Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure
- General Duty Clause
- Focus on compliance assistance
Restoring Science-, Risk-Based Approach to FIFRA and Pesticide Products
Throughout 2017, ARA remained actively involved in industry efforts to maintain the availability of essential pesticide products in the U.S.
Under the Trump administration, the EPA on April 5, 2017, denied a petition requesting the agency revoke all tolerances for the pesticide chlorpyrifos and cancel registrations for all related products. This was one of the first major steps by the agency to go back to making pesticide registration and re-registration decisions based on widely accepted scientific practices and using a risk-based approach as required under FIFRA. EPA announced chlorpyrifos will remain registered for use as it continues to undergo registration review, a program that re-evaluates all pesticides on a 15-year cycle. The statutory deadline for the agency to evaluate potential risks posed by chlorpyrifos is Oct. 1, 2022. ARA participated in a broad ag industry coalition urging the EPA to take this action.
Other products under registration review include glyphosate, neonicotinoids, pyrethroids, pyrethrins and sulfonylureas. ARA submitted comments to the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs. Most of these products under review have been safely and widely used to control pests and weeds for decades. They are used in integrated pest management and resistance management programs. Few alternatives and effective products would be available if these products under review were needlessly removed from the marketplace.
ARA believes it is important for America’s farmers to be able to continue to have necessary and important crop protection tools available for use. The loss of these classes of pesticides would be devastating to the nation’s ability to control invasive pests and weeds that pose a major threat to many different crops.
ARA’s advocacy efforts focus on maintaining the availability of existing pesticide technologies with a proven, successful track record as well as promoting newer technologies.
More Work to Be Done
A complete update of issues impacting agricultural retailers—incorporating lessons learned from dicamba application, WOTUS, NPDES reform, EPA applicator training and certification, RMP changes, tax reform, farm bill, transportation and conservation—will be published in May in the 2017 ARA annual report.