ASA supports maintaining science, risk-based processes for consideration of pesticides and environmental issues by EPA. Pesticides are important for protecting farmers’ operations from billions of dollars in damages annually from weeds, insects, and other pests. However, it is essential this review process is based on the best available science to ensure these tools are safe for humans and the environment. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) together provide a robust, thorough framework to review and periodically re-review pesticides, ensure their use is not harming the environment or the workers who apply them, and that they are safe for our food and feed supplies. Moreover, it is important that EPA can maintain a skilled, expert workforce who can review the science and make informed decisions on the best use of these products. ASA rejects any attempts to undermine this critical legal and regulatory framework, the sound-science on which it is based, or the ability for EPA to maintain the necessary skilled workforce to conduct this vital work.
In 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced they would begin a new rulemaking to define what are “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS), impacting the farming activities that can take place near bodies of water without a federal permit. This would be the fourth change to the WOTUS definition in the last decade. A fifth change will likely be required in 2023 after the Supreme Court rules in the case Sackett v. EPA, in which the Court will consider the correct criteria to determine whether a wetland is a WOTUS. ASA has worked hard over this entire period to ensure that the agencies’ definition works for America’s farmers and ranchers. Our growers agree with the Biden administration that we need an enduring definition of the term “Waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”) that will put an end to the frustrating, decades-long cycle of Clean Water Act regulation and litigation. Farmers need regulatory certainty to adequately manage their land in a financially and environmentally sustainable manner. Unfortunately, the recently proposed rule misses the mark. It includes ambiguous terms and criteria and doesn’t adequately codify essential and longstanding agricultural exemptions. The result is a confusing expansion of the scope of the Agencies’ statutory authority over the nation’s waters. Soybean producers appreciate the significance of clean water and strive to be responsible stewards of our water, land, and environment, and they are fully supportive of the goals of the Clean Water Act. Water is essential both to producing healthy crops and livestock and to supporting healthy communities. But it is important that policies are in line with the intent of the law and the rulings of the Supreme Court, and that they protect our resources through responsible and practical rules and regulations. ASA will continue to work to ensure a durable definition of WOTUS that works for American soybean farmers.