Ag groups seek herbicide strategy withdrawal
Posted on Oct 12, 2023 at 16:58 PM
On Sept. 12, the U.S. EPA reached a settlement with activist groups in longstanding litigation covering more than 1,000 pesticide products.
In 2011, two activist groups filed a complaint in Federal Court in California against EPA alleging that it was violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it registered or reevaluated the registration of 382 pesticide active ingredients, which was ultimately reduced to 35 active ingredients covering more than 1,000 pesticide products containing one or more of these active ingredients. This became known as the “megasuit” because of the number of pesticides it covered. The settlement entered by the Court this week resolves all outstanding claims.
In 2022, EPA issued its ESA Workplan, Balancing Wildlife Protection and Responsible Pesticide Use: How EPA’s Pesticide Program Will Meet its Endangered Species Act Obligations, which describes how EPA will address the challenge of protecting ESA-listed species from pesticides. The ESA Workplan was developed with public listening sessions and public comment. This settlement is consistent with EPA’s ongoing efforts to develop a multichemical, multispecies approach to meeting its ESA obligations under the workplan. EPA’s traditional chemical-by-chemical, species-by-species approach to meeting these obligations has been slow and costly, with ESA work on each pesticide typically taking many years to complete. As a result, EPA has completed its ESA obligations for less than 5% of its actions, creating legal vulnerabilities, the potential for adverse impacts to listed species, and uncertainty for farmers and other pesticide users that use many pesticides. Resolving the remaining claims in this lawsuit and establishing a path forward under the settlement is a significant step to overcoming these challenges.
This agreement and the prior partial settlement include obligations for EPA, including development and implementation of a herbicide strategy, a draft of which was released for public comment on July 24. The comment period ends Oct. 22.
Agricultural stakeholder groups maintain that the herbicide strategy would impact most agricultural herbicide users in the lower 48 states, and producers in four pesticide use limitation areas (PULA) established by the proposal, including some in Georgia (see PULA map here) could be subject to greater restrictions.
Southern Cotton Growers has organized a petition asking EPA to withdraw the herbicide strategy. To join the petition, click on the sign-on link and answer the four questions and your name will be attached to the letter. This needs to be done by October 20. Ginners or representatives for another segment of the cotton industry, are asked to forward the petition to their growers and urge them to sign on too. This is a nationwide initiative among the agriculture organizations. For more information, please contact Dave Ruppenicker, Southern Cotton Growers CEO, via email at email@example.com.