Ag groups sue EPA over chlorpyrifos revocation

The American Farm Bureau Foundation and sugar beet, soybean, fruit and vegetable and cotton groups last week sued the Environmental Protection Agency over its decision to to revoke all tolerances of chlorpyrifos.

The groups say the pesticide used to control foliage and soil-borne insect pests is vital to their crops, that they can use it safely, and that EPA ignored its own scientists when it issued the revocation that is scheduled to take effect on Feb. 28. They filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis, asking for a review of EPA’s decision and a stay of the rule to prevent the “irreparable damage” they say will come to them.

Brad Doyle, soy farmer from Arkansas and president of the American Soybean Association said, “EPA’s proposed interim decision back in December 2020 for the re-registration of chlorpyrifos found 11 high-benefit, low-risk crop uses that the agency was confident ‘will not pose potential risks of concern.’ How can they now deny all uses, even when the court gave them options for keeping those found safe?”

The agricultural stakeholders taking legal action are first seeking an injunction of the rule to prevent the first wave of significant, irreparable damage the chlorpyrifos revocation would cause if it were to take effect on the Feb. 28 implementation date. The groups are ultimately seeking vacatur of the rule where it conflicts with well-established, properly developed science — specifically, the 11 uses found safe.

Farmers prioritize safe use of pesticides for a multitude of reasons related to safe food production and stewardship. The revocation rule undermines their efforts by removing a critically needed tool.

“Based on EPA’s own safety assessment of chlorpyrifos for sugarbeets, our growers have depended on this effective and essential product to protect their crops from certain disaster while providing safe, high-quality sugar for American consumers,” said Nate Hultgren, president of American Sugarbeet Growers Association.

“It is unfortunate that we are forced to take these drastic steps ” said Julie Gordon, president of Cherry Marketing Institute.

“However, with the revocation of such an important chemistry in our industry, our growers stand to suffer irreparable harm. Michigan, with almost 5 million sweet and tart cherry trees, grows 70-75% of the total U.S. production of tart cherries and close to 20% of the total production for sweet cherries.

“Chlorpyrifos is critical to the Michigan cherry industry, as there are no alternative products that effectively control trunk borers,” Gordon said.


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