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WASHINGTON -  U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue praised the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to request a rehearing of a pesticide case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The DOJ has asked for a panel rehearing and a rehearing en banc in a case in which the court directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban chlorpyrifos, a common and useful pesticide, within 60 days.

Perdue says the USDA disagrees with the ruling ordering EPA to revoke tolerances and cancel registrations for chlorpyrifos, arguing that the decision "appears to be based on a misunderstanding of both the available scientific information and EPA’s pesticide regulatory system"

"The USDA and other groups have pointed out significant flaws in the draft chlorpyrifos assessments on which the court based its opinion, and USDA supports EPA’s conclusion that the available scientific evidence does not indicate the need for a total ban on the use of chlorpyrifos," he said.

The Ag Secretary noted that the EPA should be allowed to continue its ongoing science-based and expert-led evaluation of chlorpyrifos, which is part of EPA’s registration review program that covers all pesticides.

“The costs of an incorrect decision on chlorpyrifos are expected to be high and would cause serious impacts to American farmers working to feed, fuel, and clothe the United States and the world," Perdue said. "This ruling, which would mean the sudden and total loss of chlorpyrifos, prevents farmers from using an effective and economical crop protection tool."

Chlorpyrifos is used on well over 50 crops grown throughout the United States due to its efficacy and broad-spectrum activity across multiple pests. For some crops and target pests, chlorpyrifos is the only line of defense, with no viable alternatives, he said.

“Chlorpyrifos helps farmers and consumers by improving production efficiency and contributing to public health and safety, Perdue said. "The arbitrary, immediate, and total loss of this crop protection tool endangers agricultural industries and is expected to have wide economic impacts."

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