U.S. potato growers are largely family farmers with operations that span generations. Growers are stewards of the land and contribute to the protection and management of the nation’s environment. NPC encourages public and private partnerships that support sound stewardship of public and private working lands and associated waters that will maintain the health and productivity of those resources.
Waters of the United States
In January 2020, NPC welcomed EPA’s announcement that it finalized its proposed rule defining the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The revised definition identifies four clear categories of waters that are federally regulated under the Clean Water Act: the territorial seas and traditional navigable waters; perennial and intermittent tributaries; certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments; and wetlands that are adjacent to jurisdictional waters. Importantly, the final action also details what waters are not subject to federal control, including features that only contain water in direct response to rainfall; groundwater; many ditches, including most farm and roadside ditches; prior converted cropland; farm and stock watering ponds; and waste treatment systems.
Worker Protection Standards
Regulations involving Worker Protection Standards (WPS) are currently in the process of implementation. NPC is strongly committed to the intent of ensuring that the potato industry’s valued workers are able to work in as safe a manner as possible. This has become particularly important as the COVID-19 issue has taken hold of the global economy and agriculture. Several provisions of WPS appeared to depart from the overall goal of protecting farm workers and instead created opportunities for predatory litigation. NPC is working to ensure the final regulations meet their intended purpose.
Industry Registration Review Initiative
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for both the initial registration of vital pesticides and the regular review of ongoing registrations. NPC is working to ensure that EPA has access to timely and relevant information related to the application, use, and industry benefits of these tools. NPC conducts outreach on data and submits comments intended to inform EPA during their regulatory process.
Endangered Species Act Reform
NPC is actively involved in agriculture’s efforts to reform the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The negative impact that environmental activist lawsuits and adverse regulatory decisions have generated under ESA are constraining reasonable activities by the agriculture industry in managing its natural resources. For this effort to be successful, a two-pronged effort is generally assumed to be necessary that will involve regulatory reform within EPA, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with legislative reforms undertaken by Congress.
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Clarification
NPC is working with a broad ag coalition to pass legislation to eliminate an unnecessary conflict between the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) that creates tremendous regulatory jeopardy for farmers. Though farmers may be following EPA’s FIFRA pesticide requirements exactly, activist lawsuits have also required CWA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for each application. NPDES was created for major polluters such as chemical plants, but these lawsuits have exposed farmers to fines of over $37,500 per day per application for permits that EPA acknowledges have no environmental benefit.