Pesticide Registration and Tolerance Fees: An Overview

Publication Date: November 2008

Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service


Research Area: Environment



The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for regulating the sale, use, and distribution of pesticides under the authority of two statutes. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) (7 U.S.C.136-136y), a licensing statute, requires EPA to review and register the use of pesticide products within the United States. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) (21 U.S.C. 346a) requires the establishment of maximum limits (tolerances) for pesticide residues on food in interstate commerce. Although U.S. Treasury revenues cover most costs for administering these acts, fees paid by pesticide manufacturers and other registrants have supplemented EPA appropriations for many years.

The current authority to collect pesticide fees under the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA; P.L. 108-199, Title V of Division G) expires at the end of FY2008, with phase-out authority at reduced levels for FY2009 and FY2010. PRIA, included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of FY2004 enacted on January 23, 2004, amended FIFRA and modified the framework for collecting fees to enhance and accelerate the Agency's pesticide licensing (registration) activities. In March 2006, EPA released a report summarizing its second-year progress in implementing the PRIA provisions. According to the report, in FY2005, EPA expended $11.2 million of the total $20.3 million new registration fees collected in FY2005 ($10.6 million) and carried forward from FY2004 ($9.7 million). The remaining balance of $9.1 million was carried forward to FY2006. By the end of FY2005, EPA reported the completion of 1,316 decisions subject to PRIA since its enactment in 2004. On August 3, 2006, EPA announced that it had completed 9,637 (99.1%) of the 9,721 required tolerance reassessments.

Authority for collecting pesticide fees dates back to the 1954 FFDCA amendments (P.L. 518; July 22, 1954), which, as passed, required the collection of fees "sufficient to provide adequate service" for establishing maximum residue levels (tolerances) for pesticides on food. Authority to collect fees was expanded with the 1988 FIFRA amendments (P.L. 100-532), primarily to help accelerate the reregistration process (i.e., a reevaluation of pesticides registered prior to 1984). EPA was authorized to collect a one-time reregistration fee and, through FY1997, annual maintenance fees. The 1996 amendments to FIFRA and FFDCA, or the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) (P.L. 104-170), extended EPA's authority to collect the annual maintenance fees through FY2001, including use of the fees to reevaluate "old" tolerances (tolerance reassessment). The authority to collect the maintenance fees expired in FY2001. Congress extended this authority annually through appropriations legislation until the enactment of PRIA.

Congress has prohibited EPA proposals to significantly increase revenues for these activities by modifying the fee structure and to include increased fee revenues in EPA budget proposals annually from FY1998 through FY2004. Despite the enactment of PRIA, the President's FY2005 and FY2006 budget requests included proposals to further increase pesticide fees, which were rejected by Congress. The FY2007 President's budget request included a similar proposal.