The new Farm Bill could mean more pesticide exposure to children. Here’s what you can do!

The new Farm Bill could mean more pesticide exposure to children. Here’s what you can do!

| Bethany Davis, MegaFood Director of Advocacy & Government Affairs | September 26, 2018 |

Did you know that the right for local cities and towns to ban specific pesticides is under attack?

Once every 5 years, a massive piece of legislation makes it way through the congressional system called the Farm Bill. It covers aspects of nutrition like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as conservation rules and overall agricultural support and safety nets for farmers like crop insurance.

The House and the Senate each take a whack at the bill and work to get a draft voted on and approved. This happened this past spring and summer. Then a committee with members from Team House and Team Senate try to merge both versions into one fantastic new Farm Bill that will work for both sides. Seems logical, right?

This year, the House version of the Farm Bill passed with a rider (section 9101) attached that would block local governments from adopting their own pesticide regulations, even if those regulations are designed to protect kids from toxic pesticides. For any cities and towns that already have pesticide rules or bans in place, this bill would preempt (a.k.a. nullify) them, requiring any ordinances or bans on pesticides to be approved at the federal or state level. It’s no surprise that this added layer of approval (especially at this level) makes an arduous task all the more challenging.

The Environmental Working Group recently launched a live map that shows all of the pesticide ordinances that would go away if this rider was to make it into the final version and be approved by both the House and Senate. Overall, 155 ordinances that ban or restrict toxic chemicals on park and playgrounds could be preempted by Sec. 9101 of the House-passed farm bill. Examples include:

  • Encinitas, California has a policy that restricts the use of some toxic pesticides, neonicotinoids and urges use of the least toxic pesticide first.
  • Washington, D.C. restricts the use of toxic pesticides on public property, including playgrounds in favor of organic pest control methods.
  • Cherry Hill, NJ has a pesticide-free parks program.

These and 152 other similar ordinances and bans would go away if this rider goes through. Cities and towns have pioneered changes like this over the years. The passage of this rider would be a significant setback.

It is imperative that this pesticide rider does not get integrated into the final Farm Bill. The committee is tasked with completing the deliberations by the end of the week. Now is the time to reach out to members of the committee and tell them – drop section 9101, “Recognition and role of State lead agencies” from the House Bill!

MegaFood has been working on this issue, including working with local mayors, to write letters urging the Committee members to drop this rider and exclude it from the final bill. Towns and cities can decide for themselves what pesticides to use or not use!

Contact Farm Bill Committee Chairs Representative Mike Conaway and Senator Pat Roberts and ask them to drop this rider today!

Learn more about the Farm Bill committee members.