Lege advances pesticide bills

The Hawaii Legislature this week advanced many bills that, if ultimately enacted, will affect how farmers may use pesticides, or if they can use them at all.

HFB supports a robust and effective pesticide regulatory and enforcement program under the U.S. EPA and the State DOA to ensure the safe and judicious use of pesticides. Protecting the health of farmers, ranchers, their employees, families, communities and the environment is paramount. However, we oppose new laws that are arbitrary and do not guard against actual risks.

As of Feb. 12, these pesticide bills are still alive and are being considered to move forward in various House and Senate committees. You can follow their progress by clicking on the links. When hearings are scheduled, YOUR TESTIMONY IS NEEDED and appreciated to help defeat these bills.

House Bill 790 (similar to SB 29) requires the implementation of buffer zones around “sensitive areas,” such as schools, watersheds, shorelines and hospitals. It also requires commercial entities purchasing or using an unspecified amount of restricted use pesticides to post warning signs, issue written notifications of application and make annual public disclosure. It authorizes counties to adopt stricter regulations, and allows citizens to file civil suits against violators.

HB 252 (SB 778) appropriates $6 million (over two years) to implement the recommendations of the Kauai joint fact finding study group’s report on pesticides, many of which will hurt Hawaii’s farmers.

HB 253 (SB 844) prohibits the use of any pesticide product containing chlorpyrifos.

HB 1571 establishes disclosure and public notification requirements for outdoor application of pesticides in various sensitive areas or by large-scale, outdoor commercial agricultural operations using an unspecified amount of RUPs (latest draft, HD1, specifies 10 pound or gallons). It also allows counties to set their own regulations, establishes penalties, permits citizen lawsuits and creates a vegetative buffer zone pilot project at five schools.

HB 1282 (similar to SB 810) prohibits the use of neonicotinoid insecticides and glyphosate on state lands without a state-issued permit, and only if the situation poses an immediate threat to human or environmental health and no viable alternative is available. It also allows counties to set stricter rules.

HB 254 (SB 779) expands membership of the state Pesticide Advisory Committee to include representatives from each county’s mayor’s office, a member of Hawaii Farmers Union United, a medical expert and a scientist from a non-governmental organization. The committee also would be directed to set chronicity standards for low-level continuous exposure to pesticides, evaluate existing pesticide laws and suggest changes, revise the Kauai “good neighbor” pesticide disclosure program and expand it statewide, and develop a statewide comprehensive buffer zone policy.

SB 19 requires DOA to establish a mandatory disclosure program for pesticide use.

SB 809 allows each county to enact and adopt local laws, rules, and policies that regulate pesticides use.