Miss. Senator Asks Nominee to Commit to Improving USDA-EPA Coordination

050423 Ag Hearing
VIDEO:  Senator Hyde-Smith Addresses USDA-EPA Interaction on Pest Control Regulations.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today received a commitment from a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nominee to ensure agriculture interests are truly considered as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the pesticides on which American agriculture relies.

Hyde-Smith broached the subject during Senate Agriculture Committee confirmation hearing for Xochitl Torres Small, who has been nominated to be Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.  Torres Small is currently the USDA Under Secretary of Rural Development.

“America’s robust, science-based pesticide regulatory system is essential to assuring consumers of the safety of pesticide products, which are vital in protecting our nation’s food supply,” said Hyde-Smith.

“Ensuring EPA conducts a timely, predictable, transparent, and science-based review of these products is critical in order for producers to have access to safe and effective tools to protect against pests and diseases.  If confirmed, what steps will you take to ensure OPMP continues its essential interagency work with EPA in the registration and re-registration of crop protection tools, and how will you ensure the benefits and impacts to agriculture are appropriately considered in EPA’s review process?” the Senator asked.

Hyde-Smith is among a growing number of farm state lawmakers concerned that USDA Office of Pest Management Policy data on pesticides and integrated pest management is not given adequate consideration by the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs in its pesticide registration and re-registration processes.

Torres Small said she will work to ensure the perspectives of farmers and ranchers are communicated across the federal government, and committed to “making sure the USDA is helping provide, in our areas of expertise, information to the agency.”

“Making sure that we’re busting those silos across mission areas is really important so that we can leverage, as you mentioned, the science, the experience, the economics, all those pieces to look at the issue,” Torres Small said.

Hyde-Smith serves on the Subcommittee on Conservation, Climate, Forestry, and Natural Resources that, among other things, oversees programs regarding pesticide regulation.  Last year, the Senator joined in taking the Biden administration to task for hindering the use of crop protection products, including glyphosate and other similar substances that are important tools for farmers and ranchers.