The American Soybean Association (ASA) is continuing to fight for farmers’ rights to use treated seeds.

ASA, as part of an industry coalition, in March filed a motion with the court to defend the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) current regulation of neonicotinoid and other seed treatments, and to ensure that the court understands the vital importance of treated seeds to American agriculture. EPA currently regulates seed treatment products as pesticides and must approve their use. Under a lawsuit brought by a number of plaintiffs, including environmental activists, the plaintiffs want the court to order the EPA to regulate seeds treated with pesticides as if the seeds themselves were the pesticides, potentially regulating all seed treatment facilities as pesticide factories and threatening the use of treated seeds by farmers.

The plantiffs recently filed a motion with the court to deny ASA and its coalition’s petition to intervene, saying grower groups didn’t have direct economic interests in the matter. In response, the coalition consisting of ASA, CropLife America, the American Seed Trade Association, the Ag Retailers Association, the National Cotton Council of America, the National Association of Wheat Growers and the National Corn Growers Association, filed another brief with the court explaining its economic interests in the matter.

ASA and other grower groups argue in the brief that continued availability of treated seed, including but not limited to neonicotinoid treated seed, is “critical to the success of growers’ farming operations.”

The coalition’s brief states that “proposed expansion of federal pesticide law would have the immediate effect of removing from the market popular and widely used treated seed that we develop, sell, and grow and nullifying more than two dozen seed treatment registrations held our coalition’s members.  A determination that seed treated with a pesticide is itself a pesticide subject to regulation under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) would have devastating economic consequences for us and our members.”

As previously reported, ASA President Richard Wilkins explained in a declaration before the court how treated seed provides ASA’s members with an economical means for managing risk and protecting seeds from early-season insects, pests, and diseases, improving plant vigor, and increasing crop yields.

“Without the ability to plant treated seed, ASA’s members would suffer reduced farm income from crop loss and incur hundreds of millions of dollars in added costs from larger and more frequent foliar applications of less effective pesticides, requiring extra passes over each field and additional time, energy, and capital. Some ASA members may also be forced to engage in costly higher-density seeding-planting more seeds per acre than they currently are planting- to offset inevitable stand loss caused by increased pest pressures.”