Redraft of Lawn Fertilizer Bill Addresses Most PLNA Concerns
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) last week released a redraft of their proposed bill to regulate fertilizers and their application, including turf grass fertilizers. PDA made several adjustments in the bill language based on comments made by PLNA.
PLNA’s goal was to have the new fertilizer program integrated as closely as possible with the existing pesticide certification program so as to cause minimal impact and cost on companies in the lawn care business. We think that PDA has done a good job of doing that in this latest draft.
The draft legislation would do several things:
- Require all businesses that apply fertilizer for hire to pay an annual fee of $100, register and have at least one employee on staff who is certified by PDA to apply fertilizer.
- Require any person who applies fertilizer for hire to be certified by PDA (much as pesticide applicators are certified by PDA) after passing a written exam.
- The exam to become a certified fertilizer applicator will be a part of the current pesticide certification program as a separate category.
- Keep records regarding the application of fertilizer to a property, including the time, amounts and rates of application.
- Allow certified applicators to train fertilizer applicator technicians who could apply fertilizers under indirect offsite supervision. Those not certified could apply fertilizer only under the direct on-site supervision of a certified applicator.
- Allow for those currently holding pesticide applicator certification to be grandfathered into the fertilizer program as a certified applicator for the period that their current pesticide certification is in effect.
- Application rates for fertilizers would be set by PDA in consultation with Penn State.
- Preempt local governments from enacting ordinances that would regulate the application of fertilizers.
Pennsylvania has been under pressure from EPA to reduce loadings of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment into the Susquehanna River and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. This bill is designed to reduce loadings from fertilizers on the Bay. PDA will be approaching EPA to see if this legislation will result in credit from EPA in meeting Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay goals.
The draft legislation has not yet been introduced in the General Assembly. The initial plan is to “gut and replace” the language now in SB 526, the fertilizer bill that PLNA has been fighting from the past five years.
You can review a copy of the latest version of the draft legislation by clicking here. If you have any comments, please contact Gregg Robertson at PLNA via email or call 717.238.2033.