It’s the first time in 35 years that lawn care industry veteran Bob Mann hasn’t kicked off spring by pushing a fertilizer spreader. In his relatively new role as director of state and local government relations for the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), he’s been spending his time at local and state legislature meetings to advocate for the industry, instead.
We caught up with Mann to understand which states are regulatory “hot spots” for lawn care professionals. He details those below and explains why the government relations team at NALP keeps an eye on pesticide policy in the agriculture industry—domestically and internationally—as well. “That which affects agriculture threatens to spill over and affect horticulture,” Mann says.
In this Northeastern state, 30 municipalities have local ordinances restricting pesticide use, including Portland, which earlier this year passed one of the strongest municipal pesticide restrictions in the country, banning the use of synthetic pesticides. NALP, in concert with Trugreen, unsuccessfully lobbied the state to exempt professional applicators from these prohibitions. “It’s a tough environment up there, it’s a unique place as far as governance is concerned and it’s not friendly to our businesses,” Mann says. “We look at Maine as being a bellwether, and we look at it with concern.”
The Keystone State senate passed legislation regulating nutrient applications in a manner similar to pesticides. The bill would require certification for companies applying fertilizer, and it would require companies to follow best management practices. Professionals in Pennsylvania are having a lukewarm reaction to the measure, calling it “workable,” Mann says. He has concerns about fertilizer bills like this, when legislators specify product quantities and content. “I’d rather the law look at what the cooperative extension has already published as best management practices,” he says. “Its information is certainly much better than typing out a couple of lines in a law and saying that’s the way everybody has to act forevermore.”
In Illinois, a bill was introduced that would prohibit the use of neonicotinoids on public lands and on landscapes, and it allows for communities to further regulate neonicotinoid insecticides. Mann says it’s early—the bill has only been introduced and doesn’t have much support from cosponsors, but it’s a developing situation.
Legislators in this Pacific Northwest state were considering an onerous pesticide prenotification bill, but it was reduced instead to creating a study committee to see if it’s necessary to reignite the state’s former reporting and tracking panel, which was disbanded several years ago. “So it was a win in that regard—the formation of a group to look deeply at the issue to see if it’s necessary,” Mann says.
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