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Check in regularly as GCSAA's government affairs department keeps you informed about important compliance deadlines that impact golf facilities. Hot topics – some that fall within the 2021-2022 Priority Issues Agenda are critical to golf facilities.

House Farm Bill draft contains multiple research and regulatory provisions supported by golf

by Kelsey Underwood | May 21, 2024

On May 17, 2024, House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA-15) released a draft version of the 2024 Farm Bill. This draft, titled the “Farm, Food and National Security Act of 2024”, is the first opportunity to see a full bill text from either the House or Senate Agriculture Committees. The GCSAA government affairs department has reviewed this draft. GCSAA is happy to report it contains several provisions favorable to golf.

National Turfgrass Research Initiative

The Farm Bill draft reauthorizes the National Turfgrass Research Initiative (NTRI). Since its inclusion in the 2018 Farm Bill, the NTRI has prioritized turfgrass research at the Department of Agriculture (USDA). Congress then provided $3 million in appropriations funding in FY 2020 for the scientists and equipment necessary to research turfgrass genetics at labs across the country, with the goal to produce turfgrass varieties with heat, drought, salt, disease and traffic tolerance. That money continues to be included in the USDA.

Retaining the NTRI in the 2024 Farm Bill was a large part of GCSAA's advocacy efforts during the 2024 National Golf Day. The Government Affairs Committee met directly with staff for the Senate Agriculture Committee (minority) and House Agriculture Committee (majority and minority) to discuss its importance. In addition, more than 250 industry professionals met with their members of Congress on National Golf Day to highlight how important turfgrass research was to their golf facilities. The collective advocacy efforts were successful.

Regulatory Certainty

Beyond the NTRI, the GCSAA has been lobbying the House and Senate Agriculture Committees this past year to include several regulatory provisions in the 2024 Farm Bill that are vital to superintendents. The following regulatory provisions have been included in the Farm Bill draft:

  1. State Pesticide Preemption Support: Under FIFRA, the EPA enters into cooperative agreements with states to co-regulate pesticide products. Absent strong preemption language, a town or city can override a state's pesticide regulations with its own, jeopardizing the protections to the public. The Farm Bill draft makes clear that regulation should remain at the state level, where it belongs.
  2. Federal Pesticide Labeling Uniformity: Under FIFRA, states are permitted to regulate the sale and use of pesticides but are preempted from requiring additional or different pesticide labels or packaging. Nevertheless, some states and cities are challenging this with their own – contradictory – findings that risk creating an unworkable, inconsistent patchwork of state or municipal pesticide labels. EPA is the primary authority under FIFRA to decide what goes on the label and the Farm Bill draft includes language that reaffirms this. 
  3. FIFRA – Endangered Species Act (ESA) Interagency Working Group: The Farm Bill draft continues and strengthened the ESA Working Group, created in the 2018 Farm Bill to improve the ESA consultation process for federal pesticide decisions. It includes the USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy as a new participant, joining the EPA; Departments of Commerce and Interior; and White House Council on Environmental Quality. It also makes clear that the views of industry stakeholders, such as golf, are respected.
  4. Uniform Definition of Biostimulants: Plant biostimulants are products that can be used in both agricultural and non-agricultural settlings to improve natural plant nutritional processes, which can result in: improved plant heath; tolerance to abiotic and other environmental stresses; and improved overall growth. Unfortunately, plant biostimulant products and technologies face regulatory challenges that impact their use in commercial settings, including golf courses. To address this, the Farm Bill draft establishes a uniform national definition of plant biostimulants, which excludes their coverage under as a pesticide under FIFRA.
  5. Enhanced Role of USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy (OPMP): In addition to coordinating USDA pest management and pesticide regulatory policy, OPMP works with the EPA on registration of new active ingredients and pesticide Registration Review, ensuring the needs of pesticide users are represented. The Farm Bill draft strengthens the role of the OPMP and provides additional mandatory funding for it to perform its role.
Thompson has promised a mark-up of this Farm Bill draft in the House Agriculture Committee the week of May 20. After that, there will be a vote on the House floor. GCSAA will continue to push for action in the House and Senate so that a Farm Bill, with the provisions supporting the golf course management industry, is sent to the President’s desk for signature this year.