NYAFEC Continues to Fight for Fair Pesticide Policy in New York State

The New York Alliance For Environmental Concerns (NYAFEC), a not-for-profit association committed to advocating the environmental and economic benefits of a unified green industry, continues to make productive strides in Albany.

NYAFEC’s efforts worked to stall the momentum of the many bills that seek to restrict, limit or eliminate the use of chemicals to control pests by professionals and the general public. These bills, in various stages of consideration within the legislature, deal with almost every aspect of pesticide use. Measures that deal with tougher standards for the storage, restricted uses, and transportation of chemicals are under consideration, even a bill that would require us to maintain our application records for thirty years (A3733).

In November 2003, The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation informed golf course industry representatives that provisions written into Title 10 lawn care environmental law to exempt golf courses was under review. The NYSDEC examined the dictionary definition of “golf course” as greens, tees and fairways to make a case for the removal of these exemptions. The New York State Turfgrass Association organized a delegation of golf course interests, including NYAFEC, the New York Golf Course Owners Association, the Metropolitan Golf Association, the Long Island Golf Course Superintendents Association, the Metropolitan Golf Association, the Long Island Golf Course Superintendents Association, and GCSAA to present the industry case to the NYSDEC. Subsequent consultations between NYAFEC lobbyist Chris Revere of The Vandervort Group, key New York State legislators, and NYSDEC clarified the law’s intent to exempt golf courses and the matter was resolved in our favor in November 2004.

A bill that would create a State Urban Pesticide Board has passed in the Assembly. Among the most troubling aspects of this proposal are the details about how the board would be appointed. Although the industry would have token representation, every early indication points to a “stacked deck”, a board that would make recommendations on chemical use to lawmakers and regulators according to the opinions of those already predisposed to support additional restrictions.

The most threatening bills that have come back to be re-introduced from previous years are the bills to prohibit the so-called "aesthetic use" of pesticides on lawns, golf courses, parklands and playing fields; and authorization of local governments to enact pesticide laws. These two bills jeopardize the very existence of our industry in New York, and totally decimate the practice of Integrated Pest Management (I.P.M). The term “aesthetic use” is so vague and open to interpretation that the possibilities are frightening. The whole concept and idea of weed control in lawn care is a primary target here, effectively being totally eliminated, but restrictions and chemical disqualifications would certainly not stop there.

Just as dangerous is the bill that would allow local municipalities to enact their own pesticide legislation. Local governments could decree any restriction or ban outright any chemical use that suited them, even if only for political reasons. Presently the entire State Legislature must pass pesticide legislation and the Governor must sign on. Local governments could now pass their own laws at will, the consequences apparent if this bill should ever pass are devastating in a state like New York where political pressures have already created momentum to ban the use of pesticides.

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