EPA Considers Society of American Florists Guidance to Help Growers

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Society of American Florists (SAF), and its lobbyist continue to play a pivotal role in providing guidance to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as it works to revise rules regarding pesticide handling – a move that will eventually impact flower farmers across the nation.

The EPA’s concerns about the effects of pesticides on endangered species have prompted the agency to update rules on pesticide registration and application methods, says SAF Senior Lobbyist Joe Bischoff, Ph.D. This includes revamping regulations on fungicides and insecticide application, as well as addressing runoff management.

Currently, the EPA is only applying the rules to what it calls agricultural uses, which includes row crops, fruits, vegetables and tree nuts. The rules will eventually impact the nursery and floriculture industries, which the EPA considers “nonagricultural” uses. The timeline for enforcement on nonagricultural uses remains unclear, as it involves unique considerations that require further deliberation.

According to Bischoff, these new rules represent the culmination of years of legal battles against the EPA.

“The reality is for decades now, the EPA has not been meeting its obligations under the Endangered Species Act,” he says, and environmental groups have taken the EPA to court over it. “The courts have been getting tired of the approach — or lack of approach — the EPA has had.” As a result, the EPA is addressing that litigation risk and beefing up its assessments as they relate to endangered species when registering and re-registering pesticides. 

SAF was quick to get involved in the process on behalf of flower growers. In the summer of 2023, as the EPA committed to making changes, SAF initiated discussions with Capitol Hill politicians and gathered feedback from growers to assist the agency in crafting rules growers can easily adopt. 

That work is paying off. In a recent meeting with the agency, some of the feedback from SAF is clearly reflected in the EPA’s updates, Bischoff says. While many of the details of the changes won’t be finalized until August, “we know the EPA is augmenting its approach so as to minimize the impact to our growers, while meeting their obligations under the Endangered Species Act,” he says. “Over the past year we’ve seen significant improvement from what was initially proposed, but we’ve got more work to do.”

About The Society of American Florists

The Society of American Florists is the association that connects and cultivates a thriving floral community through training, education, marketing resources and advocacy. Our vision: The power of flowers in every life. For more information, visit SAFnow.org.