Congressman Doc Hastings

Serving Central Washington

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EPA Overreach Hurts Central Washington Farmers

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Washington, Jun 11, 2010 | comments

Central Washington is known for producing top-quality agricultural products that are enjoyed by people worldwide.  We are the nation’s top producer of apples, pears, cherries, hops and mint, and the second biggest producer of potatoes, grapes and apricots.  More importantly, the farmers that grow these crops create thousands of jobs throughout Central Washington and contribute to the strength of our economy.

 

Through smart agricultural practices and the cutting-edge research conducted by scientists at the Agricultural Research Service centers in Prosser, Wapato and Wenatchee, as well as Washington State University, our farmers are able to stay ahead of the ever-evolving threats of pests and disease. 

 

The federal government also ensures that the products our farmers use to combat these threats are safe for consumers and the environment, putting every pesticide and herbicide through rigorous safety tests before they ever make it out into the field.  If we are going to empower the federal government to help protect our food safety, however, it only makes sense that these regulations be based on sound science.  The current policies used for decades have helped our farmers produce top-quality products while keeping our communities and the environment safe.

 

Unfortunately, recent actions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reject this approach by imposing burdensome restrictions that ignore the best available science.  This will hurt the ability of our farmers to keep their products pest-free, with no additional benefit to the consumer or the environment.

 

Specifically, I have serious concerns with EPA’s decision to put new restrictions on the use of crop protection products within 500 feet of any body of water.  This includes rivers, dry stream beds and irrigation canals, and is based off of the high water mark – regardless of the water level when the products are applied, or the direction of the wind.

 

These pesticides and herbicides help fight off pests that attack apples, cherries, pears, blueberries, and vegetable seeds, but would effectively be banned under the EPA’s new regulations.  The restrictions also affect mosquito control districts and the health of our forests.  By implementing these onerous regulations, Central Washington farmers and ranchers will face higher costs and will likely have to take an inferior product to market.

 

Unfortunately, this is only the first step in a regulatory scheme that will cost our farmers jobs and harm the local economy.  In coming months, EPA is expected to enact similar restrictions on a number of other products that affect our growers.  I will continue to stand up for agriculture practices that balance science-based food safety efforts with the need to create jobs and grow the economy for local farmers, while standing up to over-reaching EPA regulatory efforts that will only harm Central Washington.

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