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Maryland Establishes New Pesticide Reporting and Information Workgroup

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., May 29, 2013

On May 16, 2013, the State of Maryland enacted legislation establishing a new Pesticide Reporting and Information Workgroup charged with evaluating the need for a statewide pesticide database that could track the use, release, sale, and purchase of pesticides in Maryland.  A brief summary of the Workgroup’s mandate follows. For more information about the Workgroup or about Maryland’s pesticide regulatory requirements more generally, please contact Kathy Szmuszkovicz at Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. (kes@bdlaw.com or 202-789-6037) or Alan Sachs, Independent Consultant Attorney to Beveridge & Diamond P.C. (ajs@bdlaw.com or 410-230-1345). 

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Maryland lawmakers originally introduced bills in February 2013 that would have required the Department of Agriculture to adopt regulations requiring pesticide manufacturers, producers, importers, and certain applicators to submit annual reports on the total quantities of pesticide used or released, and the locations and intended purposes of such uses.  The bills also called for semi-annual reports on the sale and purchase of restricted-use pesticides (pesticides that must be applied by certified applicators).  As proposed, the Department would have been broadly authorized to adopt regulations regarding public access to certain information, with access to the individual reports limited to government agencies, certain research organizations, and environmental and public health experts.

Ultimately, legislators deleted these proposed requirements, and instead passed a law that establishes a 20-member Maryland Pesticide Reporting and Information Workgroup.  The Workgroup will consist of four state legislators and five state agency administrators, as well as representatives from designated state public interest and professional groups.  It is also required to include one representative each from the pesticide manufacturing industry and the environmental community, as well as a public health expert, a public health/toxicology expert, an environmental health expert, and a farmer. 

The Workgroup is required to determine the need for a pesticide data reporting program, make recommendations regarding the best method for assembling and maintaining data, and determine the feasibility of gathering data from retailers and homeowners.  It also is called upon to study the existing federal process for pesticide approvals and the impacts of “organic pesticides” on farms.  The Workgroup is required to provide lawmakers with a report of its preliminary findings and recommendations by December 31, 2013.  The Workgroup’s final findings and recommendations are due by July 1, 2014.  

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