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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: April 19, 2017 10:20 AM
From: Senator Richard L. Alloway, II
To: All Senate members
Subject: Fertilizer Legislation
Last session, I introduced SB 563, which created labeling requirements for lawn fertilizer. Over the course of last year, a series of stakeholder meetings were held in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, to arrive at a bill that has industry-wide buy in. I am very pleased to be introducing the product of those discussions. This bill strikes a balance between industry needs, while providing the necessary tools to ensure that we are faithful stewards of our natural resources.

The health of Pennsylvania’s streams and rivers is of critical importance to our economic future and quality of life. Unfortunately, thousands of miles of streams in the Commonwealth are impaired due to excess levels of nitrogen and phosphorus. Excess levels of these nutrients are also significant contributors to the impairment of the Chesapeake Bay, whose watershed covers 50 percent of our state.

For decades, Pennsylvania’s farmers have led the way to implement erosion and sedimentation controls, nutrient management plans and other best management practices on farms. More recently, wastewater treatment plants have begun to implement upgrades to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus emissions. Both sectors should be commended for their successful efforts. Unfortunately, as these sectors continue to implement nutrient reductions, the loads from urban and suburban storm water continue to grow. In the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, acres of turf now outnumber acres of corn.

This legislation will reduce the environmental impact of fertilizer applied to turf areas, such as lawns, golf courses and athletic fields, while ensuring that all turf areas within the Commonwealth will be able to receive adequate nutrients so that adverse turf health will not result as an unintended consequence.

In addition to setting clear standards for the application of fertilizer to turf, the bill will also require all professional fertilizer applicators to be certified in proper application techniques and best management practices. This legislation is specifically focused on the lawn care industry and will not apply to agricultural production.

Similar legislation has already been enacted in Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey, and the industry has expressed a strong desire for consistency across the region and state.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this vital legislation to protect our waterways.

Introduced as SB792