Republican leader of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., and Republican leader of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency about the concerning trend of disregarding scientifically-sound, risk-based regulatory processes, and unilaterally denying access to a range of crop protection tools.
In a recent interview, EPA Administrator Michael Reagan said, “We don’t want the courts dictating to us which pesticides and herbicides should be on and off the market. We want science to dictate that.”
And the letter from Thompson and Boozman said they could not agree more. “For years, the registration and registration review process created under [Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act] provided producers with regulatory certainty. Unfortunately, this congressionally mandated process is now increasingly dictated by court edicts or sidelined by the political whims of the Biden administration,” the letter says.
In the letter, Thompson and Boozman write, “Russia’s war in Ukraine has sent shockwaves through the global food system resulting in increased energy prices, fertilizer cost spikes and shortages, and worsening food shortages in developing countries. As the world faces an emerging food crisis due to this conflict, our policies should be focused on supporting American production instead of creating further burden and ambiguity for our farmers and ranchers.”
“One of the most recent attacks—and perhaps the most egregious—came when U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on May 10 that reversed course on the federal government’s once consistent and decades-long position regarding federal preemption of pesticide labeling,” the letter details. Even more alarming is the solicitor general citing a “change in administration” as the basis for this decision and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack testifying that USDA was not consulted in the development of this brief. Recently, the Supreme Court denied the petition to hear this case, the letter says.
The Republican leaders say the decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals now stands since SCOTUS did deny the petition. They fear it could potentially “upend the pesticide registration process, creating a patchwork of state pesticide labeling laws and undermining confidence in scientific integrity.”
Thompson and Boozman continue, “We once again seek your assurances and commitment to ensure this Administration and EPA cease the politicization of critical crop protection tools, adhere to a science-based and transparent regulatory process required under FIFRA, and defend the work of its career scientists to overcome these misguided decisions from the Ninth Circuit. Such actions would provide farmers and ranchers a consistent and predictable regulatory process necessary for U.S. producers to continue to feed, fuel, and clothe the world.”
The letter follows a previous bicameral letter led by Thompson and Boozman on November 19, 2021, which called on the EPA to rescind its decision to revoke all food tolerances for chlorpyrifos and ensure its future actions related to the registration or registration review of crop protection tools are consistent with the science-based, regulatory process required under EPA’s congressionally mandated authorities. To date, that letter has gone unanswered, the legislators say.