The U.S. Agricultural Sector Relief Act (H.R. 6194)
The legislation directs EPA to seek critical use exemptions under the Montreal Protocol treaty process to ensure the availability of the agricultural fumigant methyl bromide where no viable alternative is available.
For decades, methyl bromide was widely used in agriculture, for uses such as the cultivation of strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, flowers, tree and vine crops, and at mills, and food storage and processing facilities.
The U.S. has phased out the use of methyl bromide, except for critical uses and other exemptions, under the Montreal Protocol and Title VI of the Clean Air Act. Uses of methyl bromide are authorized where no viable alternative is available and also in response to emergency events.
Each year EPA solicits applications for critical uses of methyl bromide from American growers. Based on those applications, the U.S. submits critical use nominations for approval under the treaty process. Since 2005, U.S. nominations for critical use exemptions have declined by over 90 percent. There is significant concern in the agricultural sector about access to sufficient quantities still needed for critical uses to control pests and diseases.
What it WILL Do:
The Act would direct EPA to:
- Continue to seek critical use exemptions for methyl bromide under the treaty process for the full amounts needed by American farmers for critical uses; and
- Allow for the use of limited amounts of methyl bromide in response to emergency events at a farm, nursery, food processing facility, or commodities storage facility that requires use of methyl bromide to control a pest or disease.
What it WILL NOT Do:
- Does not change the environmental protections in the Montreal Protocol.
- Does not end the search for and adoption of alternatives.
- Does not adversely impact the environment or public health.