(By Christina Stucker-Gassi, Healthy Food & Farms Program Manager)
Since December of 2022, NCAP has been spearheading an informal coalition of organizations with the goal of adding language from the Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act (PACTPA) into the Farm Bill. While pesticides are often left out of the Farm Bill, we have successfully raised five priorities and continue to see engagement around them from Senate and House Agriculture Committee staff and PACTPA legislative champions.
These priorities include:
- Requiring employers of farm workers to report all pesticide-caused injuries to the EPA, with strong penalties for failure to report injuries or retaliating against workers;
- Directing the EPA to review pesticide injury reports and work with the pesticide manufacturers to develop better labeling to prevent future injury;
- Closing dangerous loopholes that have allowed the EPA to issue emergency exemptions and conditional registrations to use pesticides before they have gone through full health and safety review by the agency;
- Addressing the increasing use of paraquat, which is one of the most acutely toxic herbicides in the world —according to the EPA, just “one sip can kill.” Science has shown that chronic exposure to paraquat increases risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 200% to 600%. It is already banned in 32 countries, including the European Union.
We are currently coordinating with 20 partner organizations through monthly PACTPA advocacy calls, and regular communication in between to share intel and collaborate on how best to harness continued traction on our PACTPA priorities. NCAP is serving as a hub for information gleaned from PACTPA coalition members who have an on-the-ground presence in D.C. We receive weekly updates and help coordinate follow-up actions based on intel.
In the coming weeks we will be focused on an effort to collect stories from workers who have faced barriers to reporting pesticide exposure incidents, and we will be sending this to Senate Agriculture Committee leadership. Please reach out to NCAP if you or someone you know would like to contribute a story!
In addition to our efforts to shape the Farm Bill, we are awaiting reintroduction of PACTPA in the House of Representatives and will model our advocacy in the House on what we have done so far, which includes:
- Drafting press releases on PACTPA advocacy successes.
- Drafting language for understaffed worker-serving organizations for submission to the Senate Agriculture Committee on Farm Bill priorities.
- Helping circulate a sign-on letter around the need to prevent Federal preemption of state and local pesticide policies.
- Including many new organizations in this effort, which has grown the grassroots network for meaningful work around addressing worker and environmental exposure to toxic pesticides.
- Meeting with the staff of PACTPA legislative champions and continuing to do so as needed.
- Providing recommendations to Senate Agriculture Committee Staff about how to address the increased use of paraquat and intel on other priorities.