Ag groups call on Congress to reaffirm pesticide pre-emption

In a letter to congressional leadership, more than 300 agriculture, environment, academic, infrastructure and other stakeholder groups asked Congress to reaffirm federal pesticide pre-emption on labeling and packaging. Failing to do so, the groups warn, could hold disastrous consequences for food security, the environment, public health, vital infrastructure and other uses where pesticides provide important societal benefits.

The letter, which drew 332 signers including the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), called on Congress to reaffirm that states may not impose additional labeling or packaging requirements that conflict with federal findings.

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act is clear that states “shall not impose or continue in effect any requirements for labeling or packaging in addition to or different from those required” by the federal government. 

However, in recent years, states have sought to impose health claim label requirements that directly contradict federal findings. This not only risks eroding public trust in science and evidence-based regulation, but also opens the door for a patchwork of conflicting state and municipal labels that could disrupt commerce and limit access to vital tools.

“Between drought, war and supply chain issues, farmers’ viability to feed the world is now more critical than ever,” said Nicole Berg, Washington state wheat farmer and NAWG president. “Farmers rely on crop protection tools to grow healthy, sustainable and affordable food. Too much is on the line to allow the emergence of an unscientific patchwork of state pesticide labels that would threaten grower access to these tools.”

Many signers of the letter sent a separate letter to President Biden in May urging him to withdraw a brief submitted by the solicitor general to the U.S. Supreme Court that erroneously suggested that state health claim labels are not preempted by federal regulatory findings.