This post originally appeared on the American Soybean Association website. 

Agriculture groups are applauding a ruling from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals that upholds sound science by throwing out the Environmental Protection Agency’s rule that essentially banned the use of chlorpyrifos, a product farmers use to protect their crops from insects and other pests. The decision, in which the court found EPA disregarded its own scientists’ findings by ending numerous uses of chlorpyrifos they determined were safe, vacates the rule and restores agricultural uses of the tool.

Daryl Cates, soybean farmer from Illinois and American Soybean Association president said, “Today’s ruling is a win for agriculture and science-based regulation. Federal agencies cannot be permitted to ignore their own science at the expense of America’s farmers. This ruling will restore safe, effective uses of a tool needed by many growers to protect crops from damaging pests and help preserve an affordable food supply.”

The agriculture groups brought a lawsuit against the agency in February 2022 seeking to restore farmers’ ability to use this tool to protect crops. The groups highlighted that, in EPA’s own records, agency career scientists have found at least 11 high-benefit, low-risk agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos that can be maintained safely.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said, “AFBF applauds the court’s recognition that EPA failed to follow its own standards when it took an important crop protection tool away from farmers. Growing safe and nutritious food for families across America is the top priority of farmers, and science tells us this tool is safe. Today’s decision sends a message to EPA that it must use sound science when drafting rules.”

“Without chlorpyrifos last year, our growers experienced much higher costs fighting pests. They had to use multiple pesticides applied multiple times with inadequate effectiveness. This court’s ruling supports science-based decisions. It allows our industry to safely use this product to protect our fragile plants and keep our farmers economically viable,” said Nate Hultgren, president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association.

Growers are eager to have uses of chlorpyrifos restored for the 2024 growing season. Many producers have suffered with the loss of the tool during the 2022 and 2023 seasons, with many needing to spray more pesticides to control an increasing number of pests. Other farmers lost the only effective tool they had to protect their crops from certain economically damaging pests.

Chris Bardenhagen, Cherry Marketing Institute crop management specialist, said, “Chlorpyrifos is our only effective tool for fighting borer pests in cherry orchards, which build up in the trunks and can kill a tree over a short number of years. EPA had previously determined use of this essential product on our trees and the growers’ application methods are safe; this court decision simply ensures EPA will follow its own determination before greater tree loss problems occur.”

The groups also look forward to engaging with EPA during the chlorpyrifos registration review process to ensure critical and safe uses of the tool can be retained in the years to come.

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