February 02, 2023

Proposed laws would impact ag

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Several bills are in the Illinois General Assembly hoppers that would impact agricultural production if approved.

Kevin Johnson, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association president, hosted a recent webinar to give a legislative update on the legislative proposals.

“No bad bill ever dies in Springfield; it just keeps on coming up.”

—  Kevin Johnson, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association president

There are among the bills proposed in Illinois.

Dicamba

HB4363 states no person or entity may use any product containing dicamba for agricultural, commercial, or residential use within Illinois, effective Jan. 2, 2023. The bill provides that the amendatory provisions do not apply to the use of dicamba that is purchased before the amendatory act’s effective day.

“This bill got kicked a couple different times in committee and got pushed back. It was supposed to be heard Feb. 15. We got word late Feb. 11 that the sponsor is not going to call this bill. We had put out an alert on this bill. We had a great response by IFCA members in opposition of this bill. We don’t put out alerts like that very often, but when we do it’s important that we show our unity on some of this legislation,” Johnson said.

“So, this bill is not going to be heard and it’s pretty much dead for this session. This is probably just a hiatus for this bill. We definitely think this bill will come back in the fall session or maybe the next spring session.

“No bad bill ever dies in Springfield; it just keeps on coming up.”

Neonicotinoids

SB3862/HB4558 states that on and after Jan. 1, 2023, no pesticide containing neonicotinoids may be used outdoors on any land owned or maintained by the state, except for use in structural pest control or abatement of non-native insect borers, subject to specific restrictions. It would make neonicotinoid a “restricted use pesticide.”

“This has probably been out there five to seven years trying to introduce a neonicotinoids ban. They have tweaked this bill this year to take out some of the seed coating on agricultural use, but there is some other questionable legislative language that’s in there. It would also give authority to the state Department of Agriculture director to ban or make any product a restricted use product,” Johnson said.

“We have some serious issues regarding that. What we have said to legislative members regarding not only the dicamba and neonic bills, but all of the pesticide bills that are out there that if it has to be banned or made a restricted use product that should be done by U.S. EPA, not the Illinois General Assembly.

“We think U.S. EPA has the scientists to do the review of these products. Our talking points have not really changed because it’s about all of the products. It should be a U.S. EPA decision to ban or make something a restricted use product and that’s what you’ll see as the common theme of all these bills is the banning or making a restricted-use product.”

Pesticide Penalties

HB4711/SB3721 provides that for any person applying a pesticide that results in exposure to the pesticide by a human, the penalty will be $2,500. It also states that an additional penalty of $1,000 will be assessed for each individual exposed to the pesticide. The bill would be effective immediately if passed.

“If there is a human exposure to pesticides, it would raise the fines. As many of you know how the pesticides penalty works, there isn’t anything on human exposure. That would change under this legislation,” Johnson noted.

“We need some tighter definitions on what we see as IFCA to close some of the loopholes because right now I think it’s very much open-ended. Right now, the lead bill is the Senate bill, and the House bill is kind of following it.

“Where this came from was there was a human exposure a couple of years ago in DeWitt County where an aerial applicator turned over a few immigrant farmworkers that weren’t in the field of application and there was a fine delivered, but they think it should have been a per-person penalty, not just a single fine.”

Pollinator Protection

HB4237/HB5195 prohibits a certified applicator from applying to blooming crops a pesticide with a label indicating it is toxic to bees between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. if the site of the application is located within one-half mile of a registered apiary.

Other provisions of the bill are:

• Requires a certified applicator to notify in writing each FieldWatch registered apiary location within one-half mile of the site of application of the intended date and time of the application at least 24 hours prior to the application.

• Requires a certified applicator to provide a copy of the label of the product being applied upon request.

• Requires a certified applicator to maintain an active list of apiaries that are registered on the specialty crop registry on the first day of each month.

• Provides that any violation will be considered a use contrary to label directions and will be assessed the associated point value of 3 for purposes of determining appropriate administrative action or penalty under the Illinois Pesticide Act.

“We are working with the sponsor and the Department of Ag on this bill. We think there are huge issues with this, especially on two issues. We understand where they’re coming from with the pre-notification, but for between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. that would mean we’d be spraying into an inversion. We’ve talked the last couple years with dicamba that we don’t want to spray into those types of scenarios and that means we would be spraying in those scenarios,” Johnson said.

“The other thing is the ‘blooming crop.’ Soybeans can be blooming for two months out of the year, so that means not just a pesticide that’s harmful to bees, but any product couldn’t be sprayed in those fields within a mile of an apiary. Those are some major issues.

“We also need a better understanding of what they mean on toxicity because a lot of labels just have a bee warning label on a pesticide. We need some clarification on some of that. This bill is one that’s very problematic to the industry.”

Chlorpyrifos

HB5378 relates to chlorpyrifos, the active ingredient in products such as Lorsban. The EPA has made this a restricted-use product on some of the products. The bill would expand the definition of “restricted-use pesticide” to include pesticides containing chlorpyrifos or malathion as an active ingredient.

“The bill is now in the House Rules Committee, so it’s kind of stuck right now. Our dialogue with the sponsor is that this should be U.S. EPA’s decision. They’re doing some of that already. Let U.S. EPA do their job. Also, this is going to be phased out in the coming years, so why do we need duplicate legislation on that,” Johnson said.

Glyphosate

HB3370 states that no person shall distribute, sell, offer for sale, or use glyphosate or any products containing glyphosate within Illinois. It provides that the state Department of Agriculture may adopt any rules it deems necessary to implement the provisions.

“This was introduced last year, but it’s still lingering out there. We have talked to the environmental groups about this. They would like to weed it down to just homeowner use. I think if we do a ban, it should be by U.S. EPA,” Johnson said.

“They have not pushed this one as hard in this session, but it’s still lingering out there. The Department of Ag is opposed to this and has been opposed to most of these pieces of legislation.”

Tom Doran

Tom Doran

Field Editor