WASHINGTON — The American Soybean Association (ASA) and several other agricultural groups on Dec. 15 argued before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association, et al. v. Michael Regan, et al.  (Eighth Cir. 22-1422) alleging the Environmental Protection Agency unlawfully banned the use of chlorpyrifos and urged the court to reinstate the prior safety tolerance levels for the previously widely used pesticide.

“Farmers rely on federal regulators to follow the law,” said Daryl Cates, president of the ASA and a soybean grower from Columbia, Ill. “Congress wrote pesticide laws the way they did to provide growers access to the tools they need to be successful and to ensure those tools can be used safely and effectively. When EPA violates the law and refuses to follow its own science to inappropriately deny access to safe, important tools, there needs to be accountability to protect the nation’s farmers and our operations.”

Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate, has been used as a pesticide since 1965 in both agricultural and non-agricultural applications. In 2007, an environmental advocacy organization submitted a petition to the EPA requesting the agency revoke all safety tolerances for chlorpyrifos.

The EPA summarized: “On April 29, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered EPA to issue a final rule concerning the chlorpyrifos tolerances by Aug. 20, 2021. Based on the currently available data and taking into consideration the currently registered uses for chlorpyrifos, EPA is unable to conclude that the risk from aggregate exposure from the use of chlorpyrifos meets the safety standard of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). Accordingly, EPA is revoking all tolerances for chlorpyrifos. This final rule is effective Oct. 29, 2021. The tolerances for all commodities expire on Feb. 28, 2022.”

Going forward, food containing any amount of chlorpyrifos would be deemed adulterated.

In the lawsuit against Mr. Regan, agricultural communities said the ban on chlorpyrifos, despite decades of demonstrated safe usage, has brought burdensome costs to thousands of farmers and severely limited their capacity to control crop-destroying pests. A court decision on the lawsuit is expected in the coming months.

Agricultural groups in addition to the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association joining the lawsuit include: the US Beet Sugar Association; the American Sugarbeet Growers Association; the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative; American Crystal Sugar Co.; Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative; the American Farm Bureau Federation; the American Soybean Association; the Iowa Soybean Association; the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association; the Missouri Soybean Association; the Nebraska Soybean Association; the South Dakota Soybean Association; the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association; the National Association of Wheat Growers; the Cherry Marketing Institute; the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association; the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association;  Gharda Chemicals International, Inc.; and the National Cotton Council of America.