EPA Chlorpyrifos Rule Revokes Crop Tolerances on Food and Animal Feed


The Environmental Protection Agency announced this week it is revoking all “tolerances” for chlorpyrifos, which establish an amount of a pesticide that is allowed on food. The agency will issue a Notice of Intent to Cancel under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to cancel registered food uses of chlorpyrifos. EPA officials say the move “will help to ensure children, farmworkers, and all people are protected.” According to EPA’s decision, growers must discontinue use of chlorpyrifos on registered food crops within six months. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duval responded, “This administration has repeatedly made commitments to abide by science, yet the EPA decision on chlorpyrifos strays from that commitment and takes away an important tool to manage pests and insects.” And Agricultural Retailers Association President and CEO Daren Coppock states, “By issuing this mandate, and EPA not fighting it, anti-pesticide activists have executed an end run around the statute that is supposed to govern these decisions.”

The Biden EPA’s decision to ban use of pesticide chlorpyrifos widely used on food crops but linked to neurological damage in children, is posing new problems for fruit, vegetable and soybean growers.

EPA’s action reverses a 2017 Trump EPA move to keep chlorpyrifos on the market and implements a federal court order to limit the pesticide to only safe uses such as on cotton.

But American Farm Bureau’s Sam Kieffer says producers, largely soybean and fruit and vegetable growers, must now turn to fewer, less effective and more expensive pesticides. “For some crops like soybeans, there are some alternatives, but none of them have quite the broad spectrum of coverage, as chlorpyrifos. There are other crops, many specialty crops, where there are no alternatives. And EPA says they’re committed to work with the private sector to bring new chemistries to the market and get approval, but that is a lengthy process—we’re talking years.”

Chlorpyrifos has proven effective, even when other pesticides failed. “What this means is a very effective product is no longer available, and they need to utilize additional chemistries, and that might be one, two or three-products to replace the one that they used to use. And, that could lead to higher costs, it could also lead to more difficulty of getting the job done, and there’s a lot of variables when it comes to yields, but there could be a potential there, as well.”

AFBF argues chlorpyrifos is a “valuable crop protection tool with no viable alternative.” EPA’s action appears to take effect immediately, even for on-farm stocks, and ends a 14-year fight between environmental and agribusiness groups.