Senators in both parties are trying to use the farm bill to go after EPA regulations and permits as a potential last-ditch effort to affect agency policy before the election.
The amendments range from the usual moves against the agency’s renewable fuels mandate and so-called farm dust controls to efforts to limit pesticide permits and boost the power of the agency’s liaison to farmers.
Several amendments bear the fingerprints of Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. For example, she’s on a bipartisan list of senators behind an amendment from Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) exempting some pesticides already covered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act from Clean Water Act permits.
The dual regulation is “just not necessary. I mean, why would you make somebody fill out the same stuff more than one time?” McCaskill said Thursday.
The amendment also would require the Environmental Protection Agency to report to Congress on the status of coordination between the agency’s water and pesticide offices, analyze current pesticide regulations and, according to the text, recommend how FIFRA could be modified “to better protect water quality and human health.”
“This doesn’t impact the environment,” McCaskill said.
Green groups disagree and have labeled the amendment’s defeat as one of their top priorities in the farm bill debate. They say it won’t help farmers — except for those that grow crops in water, like rice and cranberries — and note that the Clean Water Act already exempts agricultural irrigation runoff from permits.