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Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies

Emerging Issue: Pesticide Registration Challenges

Image credit: Getty Images
Date Posted: April 14, 2023

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for approving registrations for new pesticides and reviewing existing pesticide registrations every 15 years. Two key challenges related to protecting threatened and endangered species make these activities difficult, time consuming, and expensive, reducing the availability of crop protection tools for farmers:

  1. EPA’s pesticide approval process includes a new revised method for modeling the likelihood of risk to threatened and endangered species using maps overlapping maximum pesticide usage and threatened and endangered species habitat. This was supposed to be a faster assessment process than EPA’s previous practice of reviewing species impact studies one-by-one, but instead, the model assumes many impacts to threatened and endangered species that may not actually happen and requires additional review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS). FWS is not adequately staffed or able to conduct so many pesticide reviews.

  2. Activist groups have won several lawsuits over EPA’s past failure to adequately review threatened and endangered species impacts. This not only shifts pesticide decisions to judges and juries instead of scientists, but it is also expensive and time consuming for registrants and farmers who need to produce and use crop protection tools. EPA has developed a draft work plan to address endangered species protection, which relies on requiring conservation practices in specific areas where endangered species and habitat may be found, and to make that information available on a website for faster access by farmers and applicators. However, the activist groups may not acknowledge this work plan sufficiently protects endangered species and may continue to sue EPA.

Policy References

AFBF #336 Agricultural Chemicals

MFB #29 Nursery, Floriculture, Sod, and Greenhouse Industry

Additional Resources

EPA Revised Method for National Level Listed Species Biological Evaluations of Conventional Pesticides

EPA Workplan to Protect Endangered and Threatened Species from Pesticides

EPA Bulletins Live! Two – Pesticide Use Limitation Areas

Thoughts to Consider

How can USDA, pesticide registrants, farmers, and universities better communicate data with EPA on pesticide uses and impacts, to make its modeling and pesticide reviews and approvals more accurate and less restrictive?

How can farmers, farm organizations, and registrants be more active and effective in defending pesticide uses if they are challenged in court?

Laura Campbell headshot

Laura Campbell

Senior Conservation & Regulatory Relations Specialist
517-679-5332 [email protected]