U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) introduced the Plant Biostimulant Act, which would create a uniform process for approving commercial plant biostimulant use as an alternative to synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and conducting research on the technology’s benefits for soil health. The use of plant biostimulant technologies has also shown promise in sustainability management practices such as carbon sequestration and water quality improvement. The legislation is led in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.-19) and Jim Baird (R-Ind.-04).
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the plant biostimulant industry is expected to become a $5 billion global market by 2025, yet as innovation and plant biostimulant development expands globally, the path to market for such products in the U.S. remains unpredictable and inconsistent. This legislation would help remedy that problem by implementing a uniform federal definition and federal guidance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture.
“Agriculture is essential to California’s economy and allows us to put food on the table for families across the country,” said Senator Padilla. “As our practices evolve to make our agriculture sector more sustainable, we must ensure they are properly implemented to ensure their efficacy and safety. Oversight and regulatory standards for plant biostimulants, which could replace or reduce the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, are critical at this stage and help ensure California remains at the forefront of this bio-based agricultural technology.”
“Plant biostimulants are important tools that allow farmers to make more with less, which preserves our natural resources and increases efficiency. I’m glad to lead this bipartisan bill with Sen. Padilla so that there is clear pathway for these innovative products to be on the market for farmers in Indiana and across the nation,” said Senator Braun.
“The lack of a standard regulatory definition or pathway to market for plant biostimulants makes accessing this innovative technology difficult for the sustainable agriculture industry,” said Representative Panetta. “I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation that would remedy these barriers and encourage the adoption of these new products. Improving the accessibility of plant biostimulants is critical to the continued leadership of Californian and American producers in providing global food security and protecting our environment.”
“As newer technologies become available to farmers and ranchers to improve efficiency, productivity, and sustainability of American agriculture, we have a responsibility to ensure we have a regulatory process that creates a pathway to market without sacrificing safety or efficiency,” said Representative Baird. “Biostimulants have the significant potential benefits for producers and their sustainability footprint, and defining these products is an important first step in getting these tools into farmers’ toolboxes.”
Plant biostimulants are similar to probiotics or vitamins for plants which stimulate a plant’s natural processes to increase growth and optimize plant health, thereby reducing abiotic stress such as heat, salinity, floods, and drought. Plant biostimulants can provide environmental benefits by improving soil health, enhancing fertilizer efficiency, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The California Department of Food and Agriculture is a leader in the development of guidelines used to register plant biostimulant products and the University of California, Davis has pioneered research on the efficacy of plant biostimulants for increasing drought resiliency in tomatoes, among other areas.
The Plant Biostimulant Act is endorsed by the Agriculture Retailers Association (ARA), American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA), Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), Council of Producers and Distributors of Agrotechnology (CPDA), CropLife America (CLA), The Fertilizer Institute Biostimulant Council, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), Humic Products Trade Association (HPTA), International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA), National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE), Western Growers, and American Bird Conservancy.
Full text of the Plant Biostimulant Act is available here.