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Recent ruling places undue burden on farming, pest control industries

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is joining the American Farm Bureau and dozens of other agriculture organizations across the nation in requesting a rehearing on a ruling regarding pesticide applications used in agriculture.

Recently, a three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled farmers and ranchers must obtain an additional permit prior to applying regulated and approved pesticides near water sources. Prior to this new ruling, agricultural producers already adhered to extensive regulations concerning licensing, registration and application of pesticides. Additionally, every pesticide product used in agriculture has been approved and regulated by the EPA with strict guidelines created to protect lakes, rivers, streams and other water sources.

"Farmers and ranchers are the original environmentalists," Commissioner Staples said. "These dedicated men and women understand if you don't take care of the land and water, they won't take care of you. This is why agricultural producers follow the strict guidelines already in place when using pesticides. This action by the court will create another tier of bureaucracy and have devastating consequences for all Texans."

This rule change will require a lengthy permit application process and has serious public health and economic costs. For example, municipalities and counties wanting to spray for pests, such as mosquitoes that carry the West-Nile virus, will lose critical time in combating a public health threat because of a new permitting process. Additionally, farmers could lose crops that are vulnerable to pests while waiting for a permit to be processed, creating short supplies and increasing food prices for consumers.

"Agricultural pesticide application is already regulated," Commissioner Staples said. "This action by the court does not create any new safeguards for the environment, only a new hurdle of government red tape. I am proud that U.S. consumers enjoy the safest, most affordable food in the world. Unnecessary regulation threatens that security."

Texas agriculture has a $100 billion economic impact on the state, and this ruling threatens the industry. Texas farmers and ranchers have a long-standing reputation of being good stewards of natural resources and follow pesticide regulations set forth by the Texas Department of Agriculture.

If the court agrees to the rehearing, the full court will review the three-judge panels' decision. The EPA has also asked for a two-year moratorium on the implementation of the new rule to come up with a permitting plan if the ruling is upheld.

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