AFBF Petitions U.S. Supreme Court on Pesticide Case

AFBF has filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the high court to review a lower court ruling that would impose Clean Water Act permitting requirements on the application of pesticides on, over or near water.

“Allowing the lower court ruling to stand would pose serious challenges to farmers battling pests,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “When pests strike, time is of the essence, and any length of time waiting for permit approval for products that are already approved would be disastrous.”

The problem stems from a January 2009 ruling by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down a 2006 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that interpreted the Clean Water Act did not regulate most pesticide applications into, over or near “waters of the United States,” so long as the pesticide use complied with EPA’s requirements (such as EPA-approved label restrictions).

The 6th Circuit found in “National Cotton Council v. EPA” that EPA must require Clean Water Act permits for pesticide application in water or near waters where pesticide falls into the water.

If the decision is allowed to stand, farmers and others who use pesticides, such as mosquito abatement districts, will be required to obtain permits in order to apply pesticides on or near water. Since EPA views “waters of the United States” very broadly—including wetlands and even some ditches—the decision could affect hundreds of thousands of farmers.

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