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 CropLife America POSITION PAPER 8/3/06

Endangered Species Act Modernization
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDARS TO ATTEND THE REDMOND SESSION ON THE 22ND OF AUGUST.  For those of you attending, please let us know.  Hopefully, this e-mail communication will provide you with the information to assist in formulating your written/verbal comments you want to bring to the hearing.  It is imperative that our farmers and foresters show up enmasse to say "Thank You for coming to listen to us" because we have plenty to say about the ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT and its inefficiencies.   Paulette Pyle - paulette@ofsonline.org  Katie Fast/Gail Greenman of Oregon Farm Bureau - katie@oregonfb.org or gail@oregonfb.org. Chris West cwest@afrc.ws


The Endangered Species Act
(ESA) was enacted in 1973 to provide a means whereby threatened and endangered species could be conserved. A species of plant or animal is considered endangered if it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. A species is considered threatened if it is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future.

When the law was enacted, there were 109 species listed for protection. Today, there are roughly 1,000 U.S. species listed as threatened or endangered, nearly 300 species considered as “candidates” for listing, and nearly 4,000 “species of concern.” The authorization for federal funding of ESA activities expired on October 1, 1992, though the U.S. Congress has appropriated funds in each succeeding year to keep the program active.

The Counterpart Regulation became effective in September 2004 and governs how the U.S, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determines the effects of pesticides on endangered species, including consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services) as required by ESA §7. EPA’s Endangered Species Protection Program (ESPP) for pesticides was proposed in 1988, but not finalized until the fall of 2005. The ESPP outlines how endangered species are protected when potential adverse effects are determined for pesticide use, and includes a system of county bulletins to communicate necessary pesticide use restrictions to farmers. These two regulatory programs were preceded by a flurry of citizen lawsuits under ESA filed against the EPA for alleged procedural failures to properly implement ESA procedures. The Counterpart Regulation has since been challenged legally.

ESA has not been updated or improved during its 30-year history despite significant concerns about its lack of flexibility and its low success rate species recovery (less than one percent over the last three decades). The regulations described above provide guidance only on procedural aspects of the statute and not on the more substantive pieces of the Act that require improvement.

The crop protection industry joins a growing consensus of impacted local communities, agricultural organizations, industries and other stakeholders that believe this well- intentioned law is not working as it should.

Pesticides offer significant benefits to endangered or threatened species. They reduce the amount of land needed to produce crops, thus preserving critical wildlife habitat. Equally important, pesticides increase the diversity and quality of natural habitat through the effective control of nonnative or harmful species that seriously threaten endangered species, as well as damage our waters, farms and natural areas.

Even with the Counterpart Regulation and ESPP in place, American agriculture could be subject to additional lawsuits that could impose tighter restrictions on the use of crop protection products and delay or prevent new crop protection technologies, while doing little to enhance the recovery of listed species or improve their critical habitat.

Because the goal of Congress in enacting the ESA was “to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved, to provide a program for the conservation of such endangered species and threatened species, and to take such steps as may be appropriate to achieve the purposes of the treaties and conventions” (16 U.S.C. Section 1531(b)), it is necessary to update the statute to achieve the spirit of the law.

Endangered Species Act Modernization


CropLife America (CLA) supports legislative efforts in the Congress to modernize the ESA. CLA and its members support practical, balanced and scientifically-sound amendments to the ESA to make it effective in recovering and saving species at risk. We believe Congress needs to amend the ESA to improve the availability of new technology and crop protection products for species habitat recovery.
Strengthening the legislative base for the ESA Counterpart Regulation is a significant priority for the crop protection industry and others involved with producing our nation’s food and fiber. CLA believes that the Counterpart Regulation for the registration of pesticides should be given a chance to work to better coordinate determinations and consultations under the ESA . ESA reform will achieve this result. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) governs the rigorous testing and approval of pesticide products to ensure that they are safe, effective and available to protect crops and public health, as well as aid in wildlife habitat recovery and control of invasive species. CLA strongly believes that any ESA reform effort needs to recognize this principle.

Throughout the FIFRA registration process, the potential impact of a pesticide on fish and wildlife is taken into consideration. The Counterpart Regulation and the consultation process determine if there are impacts on threatened or endangered species. Under the ESPP, if adverse impacts are identified, conditions of pesticide use are adjusted and appropriate precautions are added to the product labels and relevant county bulletins.

The crop protection industry is not seeking an exemption from ESA requirements to protect and preserve species. Rather, we want a fair and open regulatory process based on good science that preserves agriculture’s ability to produce the nation’s food and fiber.

Communicating to growers the appropriate precautions for pesticide use to protect listed species requires a sophisticated system of county bulletins produced by EPA in cooperation with state agencies, the Services, and industry. Full and effective implementation of this system needs adequate resources and phase-in periods, unencumbered by litigation.

The standards for designating critical habitat and how it is protected must be revised to make them practically achievable without seriously harming agriculture or incurring exorbitant legal fees.

CLA believes that a sensible and equitable ESA program is essential. We need effective public policy to address this complex issue, not the courts micromanaging uses of products essential for farmers to grow crops, or hampering the ability of public health officials to guard against infestation and disease vectors.

. Pesticides and technologies to control harmful species can contribute substantially to protection and recovery of endangered species and their habitats. CLA advocates the development of incentives in the ESA and in habitat conservation plans for the appropriate use of pesticides.

The crop protection industry is committed to working with federal agencies, state agencies, and the Congress to provide accurate pesticide use data and other information important to preserving and protecting endangered and threatened species.

February 2006

.. Representing the Plant Science Industry z

1156 15th St. N.W. .. Washington, D.C. 20005 .. 202.296.1585 .. 202.463.0474 fax .. www.croplifeamerica.org


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