The city council in Montgomery County in Maryland is discussing a pesticide ban brought forward by Council President George Leventhal. Leventhal’s proposed ban is on non-essential pesticides, excluding use on some weeds, invasive species, agriculture, gardens and golf courses. The ban also would require posting a notice after spraying an area with a pesticide.
At a hearing in January, 20 people on each side of the issue gave testimonials either supporting or opposing the ban. At the second hearing, the council members heard 15 testimonials from each side. According to the Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE), opposition to the proposed ban outnumbered supporters at both hearings.
The committee will have two work sessions in March where they will hear from scientific experts. Then in a separate session they will hear from stake holders and professionals.
While this proposed ban would just be for Montgomery County, it could spread throughout the nation, and lawn care operators should be prepared and informed.
Karen Reardon, vice president of public affairs for the Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE), says the first thing LCOs can do is be well known to their local county elected officials.
“They need to be having active discussions with their council members that represent them as both residents and as someone working in that county,” she says.
Reardon says LCOs should also prepare themselves to be available as a resource if the discussion does come up. Read up on the topic and be available to answer questions.
It’s also important to keep your customers informed on the topic as well.
“In Montgomery County, we as RISE have provided mailers and invoice stuffers and other materials so that customers of lawn and landscape professionals in the area have been made aware of the issue by their provider,” she says.
She also says you need to have an open conversation on it with your competition, because this will affect all of you.
“You’ve got to keep your network informed and each person has a responsibility to connect others in the discussion,” she says.
If you’re not sure what the first step should be, Reardon says to just show up and be a part of the conversation.
“(Be) aware of what’s on your county or city council agenda and (don’t think) that someone else in the industry is going to carry the water for you,” she says.
“These are significant issues and professionals in the green space stand to lose very important and necessary tools. Everybody needs to show up.”