Disappointed with an Environmental Protection Agency decision not to act, the American Farm Bureau Federation is asking the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to review a ruling that would require permits for pesticide uses even when applied in compliance with pesticide labeling laws. Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says farmers shouldn't need a permit under another law when they're following the existing law.
"We are disappointed that EPA has decided not to seek a legal remedy for this situation. The decision made by the three-judge panel in January will complicate farmers' ability to farm, and raise their expenses without improving the environment."
The Farm Bureau petition was filed jointly with the American Forest and Paper Association, National Cotton Council, Croplife and others. It asks that the court reverse or clarify the decision that reversed an EPA rule that would have exempted certain pesticide applications in, near or around water from Clean Water Act permit requirements. EPA's decision not to seek a rehearing of the decision was not favored by many in the Obama Administration. U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack stated support for a full rehearing in a recent letter.
EPA has filed a motion asking the court to delay enforcement of the ruling for two years. But regardless of the timing Stallman says the ruling can complicate the effective use of important crop protection tools and impede the effective and time-sensitive use of pesticides to combat disease and insects that can destroy crops. Keith Menchy, Manager of Science and Environmental Issues for NCC agrees with Stallman.
"The permitting costs money, there is a public hearing involved, there's reporting involved, and there's monitoring involved," Menchy said. "One of the worst aspects is it allows for citizen suits."