Keeping Pesticide Riders out of the Farm Bill

Keeping Pesticide Riders out of the Farm Bill

Across the country, hundreds of local governments have stepped up in the wake of the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to properly regulate toxic pesticides. Leading cities and municipalities have enacted policies to restrict or ban pesticides that harm people, pollinators and the planet.

Friends of the Earth has helped lead and support these efforts, working with elected officials to protect their communities from health-damaging pesticides — most notably through our work on the 2018 Farm Bill. The House version of the bill contained a rider that would have stripped local governments of their ability to ban pesticides. This pesticide preemption rider would prevent any local policies that were more protective than existing federal policies from being enacted.

While the federal government has failed to take action against toxic pesticides, states and municipalities have compensated with bans on some of the most dangerous — and often most widely used — pesticides. That includes bans on cancer-causing glyphosate and brain-damaging chlorpyrifos — both of which are pesticides that Trump’s EPA has tried to bolster despite clear dangers.

The provision was a clear attempt by the Trump administration to line the pockets of the pesticide industry; and even worse, they snuck in the language under the radar. So we sounded the alarm. With the help of our members and activists, we sent in thousands of emails, letters and calls to elected officials. We met with members of Congress, highlighted the issue in state and national press, and organized a sign-on letter opposing the rider with local officials from across the country.

Our advocacy paid off. When the final Farm Bill was signed into law, it did not include the pesticide preemption rider. Local governments will maintain the right to protect their communities from toxic pesticides.

Aside from the preemption provision, Friends of the Earth members’ work helped us keep a number of other destructive pesticide riders out of the final Farm Bill. We were also able to protect endangered species from toxic pesticides and stop companies from rampantly spraying pesticides into our waterways.

Securing these wins was an important victory in our fight to protect people, planet and pollinators from dangerous pesticides — but it’s not the end of our fight. Though we fended off the most outrageous provisions, the final Farm Bill continued to perpetuate a corporate-controlled food system that props up pesticide-intensive agriculture.

More than ever, we need policies that create a resilient, healthy and just food system — and we’re working with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) to create a roadmap within his Food and Farm Act.