At least 17 bills involving farmers’ use of pesticides are being considered during this year’s Hawaii legislative session.
They include mandatory public disclosure of pesticide use on crops, a total ban on chlorpyrifos, and giving counties authority to make their own pesticide laws. One bill appropriates funds to implement recommendations advanced by the Joint Fact Finding Group on Kauai agribusinesses. Still others support treatment plans for little fire ants, an extension of the coffee berry borer pesticide subsidy program, and three new pesticide inspector positions on Oahu.
The Hawaii Farm Bureau will be tracking key bills and calling upon members to submit testimony as the measures are scheduled for committee hearings. The movement of bills can also be followed on-line at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov.
Bills that could increase the regulatory and financial burdens on Hawaii farmers include:
SB 19: Requires any person cultivating a crop to provide detailed monthly public disclosure of all pesticide use.
SB 29 and HB 790: Requires disclosure and public notification for outdoor applications of all pesticides in or near schools, healthcare facilities, childcare and eldercare facilities, and other environmentally sensitive areas. Applies to farmers buying or using a certain amount of restricted use pesticides. Allows counties to regulate pesticide use and set buffer zones, and permits citizen lawsuits.
SB 810: Requires a permit to apply any neonicotinoid insecticide or use coated seeds. Permit would be issued for one-time use, only in the case of immediate threat to human health or the environment, and if no viable alternative. Allows counties to regulate neonicotinoids more strictly than state or federal governments.
SB 779 and HB 254: Expands membership of state Pesticide Advisory Committee and directs it to establish state standards for low-level chronicity exposure levels and create a comprehensive buffer zone policy.
SB 778 and HB 252: Provides $3 million for each of the next two years to implement the recommendations of the Kauai Joint Fact Finding report, which did not find any evidence of pesticide-related problems.
The bills show that activist groups are making good on their promise to appeal to the Legislature for more pesticide laws following court rulings that struck down pesticide and GMO laws in Kauai, Maui and Hawaii counties.