the film
Commentaries and editorials

Pesticide Ruling Threatens
Central Washington Farmers

by Doc Hastings
Guest Comment, Capital Press - October 31, 2003

Central Washington farmers produce some of the world's finest products -- and a key part of this success is farmers' usage of the latest science and technology.

Unfortunately, a U.S. District Court judge in Seattle has recently issued a ruling on pesticide usage that has the potential to unnecessarily burden the farming community in Central Washington, and throughout the Northwest.

A Seattle-based special interest group filed a lawsuit over the use of common pesticides. the lawsuit is not about pesticide safety. Pesticides are put through rigorous safety tests. In fact, pesticides like those named in the lawsuit are commonly used on lawns and gardens in Seattle without question.

This lawsuit is about the importance of federal bureaucrats working together, sharing data and completing paperwork.

The judge has ruled that many routinely used pesticides may not be sprayed near salmon-bearing streams until scientific assessments and consultations by federal agencies are complete. The special interest group has asked the judge to impose arbitrary and generic "no spray" zones of between 60 and 300 feet around rivers, lakes and streams, without regard to geographical variations or the levels at which different pesticides are safe.

Despite the absence of sound science demonstrating that properly applied pesticides cause harm to fish, the judge's ruling poses a serious threat to Central Washington's agriculture economy. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, estimated losses to farmers in Washington state, because of this ruling, could be as high as $495 million.

Because of this serious threat, I have called upon the Environmental Protection Agency to dedicate whatever resources are needed to complete the assessments and consultations as soon as possible so that our farmers will have the tools they need to continue producing world-class products. Resolving this matter successfully requires federal agencies completing the bureaucratic process.

It is my hope the federal judge will also assist in resolving this matter in a manner that does not unnecessarily devastate Northwest farmers. Considering that the judge ruled the "no spray" zones are necessary because the EPA hasn't finished the bureaucratic process and the paperwork needed to document that the pesticides aren't harmful, and not because the pesticides are actually causing any harm, it would be appropriate to carefully assess the necessity of strict "no spray" zones.

Related Pages:
Pesticide Ruling Alarms Growers by Cookson Beecher, Capital Press, 7/25/3

Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, represents Washington's 4th congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Pesticide Ruling Threatens Central Washington Farmers
Capital Press, October 31, 2003

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