New state budget cuts farmer costs for pesticides, fertilizers
MADISON – Wisconsin farmers will pay less for pesticides and fertilizers under the budget signed by Gov. Scott Walker on Sept. 21.
As part of a package of fee changes in the state's pesticide regulatory programs, the fee of 0.8 percent of pesticide sales charged by many agribusinesses will no longer be permitted effective Oct. 1.
In addition, the 97-cent-per-ton fee on fertilizer sales will drop to 62 cents next July, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).
"This may be listed on invoices as a pesticide surcharge fee or pesticide fee or other similar language, and totals 0.8 percent of the total price of pesticide products," said Lori Bowman, director of the DATCP Bureau of Agrichemical Management. "If farmers see this charge on their invoices after Oct. 1, we ask them to let us know so we can take action."
The reductions are part of an overall effort to balance revenues and expenditures within the bureau.
Beginning in the early 1990s, surcharges were tacked onto registration fees for pesticide products distributed in Wisconsin, license fees for pesticide and fertilizer businesses, and fertilizer sales. The surcharges were intended to fund the Agricultural Chemical Cleanup Program (ACCP) fund, which partially reimburses cleanup of fertilizer and pesticide spills and contamination.
Many older sites contaminated with agrichemicals over years of use have now been cleaned up, and the ACCP fund has accumulated as a result. Since there is no longer a need to fund the ACCP program at the same level, the Governor proposed changes to reduce it, which the Legislature approved.
Local agribusinesses will also benefit, because there will be a fee holiday on the surcharges they've been paying into the ACCP fund as part of their fertilizer and pesticide licenses. The holiday will remain in place until the fund balance drops below $1.5 million.
The budget also increases the total both agribusinesses and farmers can be reimbursed for agrichemical cleanups to $650,000 over a lifetime, from the current $400,000, and makes all facilities eligible for reimbursement. Previously, facilities built after July 2013 could not be reimbursed for agrichemical cleanups, though they also paid the surcharge.
The 0.8 percent that farmers have been paying on pesticide products was never required by law. However, but pesticides dealers were permitted to pass on to farmers fees they were required to pay to manufacturers.
Farmers who are charged the 0.8 pesticide fee on their invoices after Oct. 1 should call 608-224-4500 or email DATCPpesticideinfo@wi.gov.