NPMA Legislative Day is one of the highlights of the year for me, not only because it’s a surefire sign spring is just around the corner, but because it represents an opportunity for PMPs to positively impact the future of the pest control industry, a profession that too often is taken for granted by both the public and our elected representatives. The 2013 edition of NPMA Legislative Day proved particularly significant since so many new faces — 97 in all — are walking the halls of Congress these days. “Legislative Day is about standing up for our collective interests and participating in a political process that can have a real impact on our lives,” said Bethwyn Todd, global director, FMC Professional Solutions. “This year, more than ever before, it’s about engaging with a new generation of federal lawmakers and an emerging generation of new leaders. It’s also about re-connecting personally and professionally in a way that reminds all of us that we’re part of something larger than ourselves and our own companies.”
It’s that sense of selfless dedication for the greater good — personified by NPMA Executive Vice President Bob Rosenberg and NPMA Vice President of Government Affairs Gene Harrington — that has served the pest management industry so well over the years. “I’ve seen first-hand that this industry is filled with hardworking, dedicated professionals,” Todd observed prior to presenting Bryan Cooksey of McCall Service, Jacksonville, Fla., with the FMC Legislative Day Award on the first day of the event. “You’re a group that goes above and beyond for your customers, your employees, your members and each other. Your passion for this industry is inspiring. Your leadership is critical for our future success,” leadership embodied by scores of PMPs across the country who devote countless volunteer hours lobbying their elected representatives at both the state and federal level, the kind of leaders who possess three key qualities that inspire others to follow, according to Todd.
“The first is vision. True leaders have a vision, a picture in their mind of what the world should be like, how it should work and a clear sense of how it will be better than the current reality. The vision is optimistic and the leader is driven by the desire to always find a better way,” she said. “The second element is conviction. A leader has to believe in the vision, believe in the cause. The leader has the conviction — and courage — to stand up and be counted even when the cause might be unpopular,” Todd said. “The last element is service. Leaders look well beyond their own interests. The vision they’re working toward, the manner in which they pursue it and the change they espouse all seeks to benefit the group. The best leaders work for the good of the cause and the greater good of their team or industry.”
When all three of those qualities are present in a leader — whether it be a PMP educating a member of the local city council about the benefits of professional pest management, or a NPMA executive lobbying a member of Congress — something magical happens. The industry’s position moves forward, perhaps imperceptibly at first, often not as quickly as we would like, but with each face-to-face meeting there is an opportunity to change a mind, to alter a long-held inaccurate perception of the industry. And fortunately for all of us, this year’s visits to Capitol Hill by hundreds of enthusiastic, highly-engaged PMPs has moved the ball forward on a number of issues of importance to the industry.
The first issue, H.R. 730, the Pest Elimination Services Transparency & Terminology (PESTT) Act, is legislation aimed at limiting USDA-Wildlife Services competition with the private sector for rodent, nuisance bird and wildlife work. Legislative Day attendees encouraged their congressional reps to support this common-sense legislation introduced earlier this year. How impactful were Legislative Day visits? Since the March 19 visits, an additional 12 co-sponsors had signed on, at press time. The second issue is particularly relevent to PMPs serving the food processing industry. NPMA has been fighting to retain food uses for sulfuryl fluoride following EPA’s January 2011 announcement that the Agency was taking steps to begin a phased-down withdrawal of the fumigant in food-processing facilities. Soon after Legislative Day, U.S. Reps. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), along with a bipartisan group of 13 other representatives, introduced the Pest Free Food Supply Act. The legislation would force EPA to withdraw a proposed regulation that would remove the authorized food uses of sulfuryl fluoride.
So keep up the good work. We’re making a difference!
The author is publisher of PCT magazine.