Congressional Look Ahead: Challenges and Opportunities
Ashley Amidon, NPMA Vice President of Public Policy
With 2021 in the history books and the 2022 midterm elections fast upon us, it’s a great time to reflect on the challenges and opportunities ahead. Our industry is gearing up for the largest coordinated policy push we have ever done, and we need every voice in the industry unified to help us affect change in DC over the next several years. 2022 and 2023 will be years of hard work for our industry, but together, we can make our voice heard on Capitol Hill and, once and for all, gain nationwide preemption.
2023 Farm Bill and Preemption
The 2023 Farm Bill is going to be the biggest challenge we’ve ever had on the national level, and with it, we have an immense opportunity to provide a permanent fix to our statewide preemption patchwork. Gaining nationwide preemption means that rather than focusing on every state trying to repeal preemption or even fight to keep it from being passed, we will be able to focus on the many other public policy issues facing our industry.
The 2023 Farm Bill is the best vehicle to push for nationwide preemption, and NPMA will be all in. We began laying the groundwork in 2021 for a national push to educate Congress on why this is needed and aim for including this provision in the 2023 bill. As historical background, the Farm Bill was last passed in 2018, and as the preeminent package for all things agriculture-related, it is the logical place for our preemption problem to be fixed nationally. Each Farm Bill is for five years, and policy conversations begin almost two years before passage, so discussions are already happening now about what to include. The 2023 bill kicked off late in 2021 and will continue through the late fall in 2023, when the 2018 Farm Bill expires.
NPMA came so close to getting nationwide preemption in the 2018 Farm Bill. Our industry was united in pushing for this provision and it was included in the House version of the legislation. Unfortunately, it was not included in the Senate version or the ultimate bill, which passed in December of 2018. NPMA worked hard to leverage our reputation as protectors of public health to help Congress understand the devastating impact removing preemption could have on our ability to protect public health, food and property. As we continue to play whack-a-mole around the country fighting back preemption repeal efforts, gaining nationwide preemption has become more crucial than ever.
NPMA has a comprehensive month-by-month plan through late 2023 to help us achieve our goal of gaining preemption nationwide. The plan incorporates a public relations push, discussions with key policymakers and staff, working with partner organizations and leveraging all our assets like the Industry Issues Fund. We will ensure our members, SPARs, state associations and key NPMA committees are all deeply involved, making this a local, state and national effort. As you prepare to speak with your elected officials during Legislative Day, we will be working closely with you to help reach each policymaker and staffer with personalized information based on visits by NPMA. This will take our industry uniting as one to have success. We’re confident that together, we can achieve nationwide preemption and will be depending on every one of our members to make this vision a reality. While this will not be easy, our industry united can accomplish so much, and NPMA will be working with every pest management professional in every state to assist.
Protectors of Public Health
As we discuss preemption with policymakers, it’s important to ensure we connect our policy ask to protecting public health. We did essential work during the pandemic, and we must help policymakers understand how essential we continue to be.
As part of the Congressional reconciliation process last fall, NPMA saw an opportunity to create relationships with many new members of Congress through our conversations on public health. We reached out proactively to members of Congress who had championed legislation specifically focusing on health and safety violations in low-income housing (including pest infestations) to begin relationships based on a mutual desire to keep people safe from pests and the health conditions they cause. These conversations have been so valuable because we are not only able to advance our own talking points and burnish our credentials among members of Congress, but we have also been able to build mutually respectful relationships with offices we have never worked with before. Public health is not a partisan talking point, and pests don’t care whether you’re a Republican, Democrat or independent, so we have worked hard to build bipartisan support for our industry.
This bipartisan work is great for NPMA in the long term, but will also be helpful in the short term for the Farm Bill. Midterm elections in 2022 have the power to drastically alter the power dynamic in Congress, and it’s possible one or both houses might flip to Republican control. NPMA wants to be ready to work with whoever is in control come January 2023 as we enter the final stage of Farm Bill negotiations, and we need your help to make that happen. No matter whether you personally agree with your representative or not, we need you to build a relationship now so that you are not a stranger to them in the Fall of 2023. NPMA will proactively reach out to all new members of Congress after the mid terms, and we’re looking forward to partnering with our members to reach them in the district and in DC.
Furthering Our Strategic Plan
While the Farm Bill is essential for achieving our preemption objective, NPMA has a wider Public Policy Strategic plan that we’re following. Based on hours of in-depth conversation with policy leaders in the industry, we developed a strategic plan in 2018 and conducted a refresh in 2020. We’re focused at the state, local and federal levels on working with sympathetic policymakers on a number of industry specific and general business priorities. We continue to provide resources and training for our members and are excited to roll out several new ideas for Legislative Day on how to prepare all of our members for visiting with their policymakers. If you have any feedback on our priorities or the resources we offer to our members, or if you want to get more involved in the public policy work NPMA does at the state and/or federal level, just reach out to anyone on the public policy team. We represent you, and we always want your feedback and ideas.
No matter which party controls Congress in 2022, or who holds the White House in 2024, NPMA is focused on representing this essential industry before all policymakers. Public health is not defined by a party, and we continue to build relationships based on the protecting American’s food, health and property.
As we all prepare to head back to Washington DC for our annual Legislative Day, the industry is ready to hit the ground running and work with policymakers to ensure our voices are heard in DC and beyond.