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Issue Brief: Pesticide preemption

May 15, 2018 -  By

Our ability to control pests on our customers’ properties rests upon a very thin tightrope known as pesticide preemption. This preemption means that in 46 states, only the state government can regulate pesticides, providing us with a single, uniform set of rules to follow. In the absence of preemption, antipesticide advocates are mobilizing and using scare tactics to unfairly malign the work we do, and they’re lobbying for outright bans on pesticides, both on public and private properties.

For example, beginning this year in Maine, you will not be able to use pesticides in the city of South Portland. Next year that ban will spread next door to the city of Portland. Homeowners, professionals—it doesn’t matter. No pesticides allowed, except if you’re the city of Portland, which exempted itself from the ban so it could continue to treat its sports fields and golf course. Let that sink in for a few minutes.

I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, “What do I care about what goes on in Maine?” Antipesticide activism knows no political boundaries. At a recent hearing in Massachusetts on a bill that would remove the preemptive power to regulate pesticides, one person testifying pointed to the local ordinances in southern Maine as reason to pass it.

Readers in Ontario will recognize this tactic, too. It was the one used to ban pesticide use in that Canadian province. Activists worked at the local level, passing ordinance after ordinance, until they built up sufficient momentum to convince politicians at the provincial level to ban pesticides for landscape use. You may think you’re safe from such threats where you happen to be, but so did the companies in Maine until not long ago. Stay vigilant.

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About the Author:

Bob Mann, LIC, formerly the agronomist for Lawn Dawg, is the director of state and local government relations for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

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