Proposed Legislation to Increase Cost of Registering Pesticides in the State of Maryland

On March 6, 2014, the Maryland General Assembly in both the House (HB0621) and Senate (SB0700) passed the third reading of the Registration of Pesticides Bill. This bill, which is set to go into effect of July 1, 2014, proposes financing a statewide pesticide database by charging chemical manufacturers an additional $10 (on top of the $100 fee required to register a chemical in the state). This database, once established, would allow scientists and the public to access information about the pesticides being used throughout Maryland.

A recent poll shows that Maryland residents strongly support the creation of this database. The bill is expected to raise $130,000 each year, which will begin by funding a survey of all pesticides being used in the State of Maryland, including which chemicals they contain, in what quantities they are administered, and where they are used. Maryland beekeepers circulated a petition in support of this bill, stating, “This [$10 increase] would be used to provide public health experts, wildlife and environmental scientists with data they need on pesticide use in the state to determine if and when pesticides are affecting our health, the Chesapeake Bay, and our honeybees and birds.”

Lawmakers and environmental groups are concerned about rapid decline of Maryland’s honeybee population, which is responsible for pollinating Maryland crops valued at $40 million. In the last year, the State of Maryland lost one-third to one-half of its honeybee population, at a rate significantly higher than the national average. But, beyond the belief that this is related to pesticide use throughout the state, Maryland scientists have not had access to the information necessary to determine the exact cause of the decline in honeybee populations.

Under current law, pesticide distributors are only required to register the name of their product with the Maryland Department of Agriculture and pay a $100 fee in order to distribute to professional pesticide applicators, such as farmers and lawn care companies. In 2013, legislation failed that proposed implementing a reporting requirement for all distributors and certified applicators. Instead, the amended 2013 bill created the Pesticide Information and Reporting Workgroup, which published its interim report recommending the database in January 2014. The new bill increases the fee to $110 and reserves the additional $10 for the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s activities “relating to the collection, analysis, and reporting of data on pesticide use in the State.”

Posted on by Kristine Dunkerton

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