Seventy-five House members urge USDA to allow Roundup Ready alfalfa planting

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, July 19 - In a bipartisan request organized by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), seventy-five members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Friday, asking USDA to partially deregulate Roundup Ready alfalfa (RRA) to allow fall 2010 planting of inventoried seed.


The request comes almost one month after the Supreme Court’s decided to strike down the injunction issued in the 9th Circuit Count’s 2007 ruling which had stopped further planting of RRA. In their letter, the members requested an interim permit to allow the use of RRA for the fall 2010 planting season while the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service completes its final Environmental Impact Study (EIS).  


The text of the letter is as follows.


Dear Secretary Vilsack, 


We write to request your assistance with respect to USDA’s review and approval of Roundup Ready alfalfa (RRA). We appreciate your Department’s efforts to-date in responding to the 9th Circuit Court ruling in 2007. In light of the Supreme Court’s recent 7-1 decision to strike down the injunction issued in that ruling, we request that you issue an interim permit to allow the use of RRA for the fall 2010 planting season while the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service completes its final Environmental Impact Study (EIS).  


RRA dramatically reduces the need for chemical application and other high-cost methods of weed control, thus increasing efficiency and significantly lowering operating costs. The efficiencies of RRA led to higher yields and higher field quality that resulted in an annual revenue increase of approximately $100 per acre. Further, RRA not only helps increase farmers’ revenue, but it also is a risk mitigation tool to help producers keep their harvest from being discounted due to quality issues. While the 9th Circuit’s decision places an injunction on further planting of RRA pending the completion of an EIS, the Court did allow for the continued harvest of RRA hay and seed for acres already planted and for that seed to be placed in controlled storage. It has been estimated that farmers have lost more than $250 million in revenue from not being able to utilize RRA during the EIS process, and they will face significant additional losses if they are not allowed to plant their inventoried seed during the fall 2010 planting season.


The June 21, 2010 Supreme Court decision stated that the ruling of the 9th Circuit was “a drastic and extraordinary remedy, which should not be granted as a matter of course” and that a  “permanent injunction is not now needed to guard against any present or imminent risk of likely irreparable harm.” According to the conclusions drawn in your agency’s draft EIS there is “no significant impact on the human environment due to granting nonregulated status to Roundup Ready alfalfa.” For these reasons, we request that you issue a partial deregulation to allow farmers to plant their inventoried RRA seed this fall while your agency finalizes the EIS.


Thank you for your continued assistance and attention on this important issue.  We look forward to your response.


The letter was signed by Representatives Lynn Jenkins, Wally Herger, Joe Courtney, John Boehner, Collin Peterson, Frank Lucas, Roy Blunt, Mike McIntyre, John Shimkus, Mike Conaway, Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, Glen Thompson, Bob Latta, John Salazar, Jerry Moran, Bob Goodlatte, Aaron Schock, Todd Tiahrt, Todd Akin, Sam Graves, Doug Lamborn, Devin Nunes, Phil Hare, Tom Latham, Harry Teague, Patrick Tiberi, Jean Schmidt, Tim Holden, Leonard Boswell, Randy Neugebauer, Jim Costa, Jo Ann Emerson, Mike Coffman, Adrian Smith, Jack Kingston, Greg Walden, Kevin McCarthy, Chris Carney, Walt Minnick, John Kline, Dennis Cardoza, Martha Blackburn, Mike Simpson, Blaine Leutkemeyer, Michelle Bachmann, Tom Rooney, Marion Berry, Steve Austria, John Boozman, Joe Barton, Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, Bennie Thompson, Scott Murphy, Dave Camp, Mac Thornberry, Phil Roe, Tom Petri, Bobby Bright, Erik Paulsen, Mike Ross, Chris Lee, Joe Pitts, Steve King, Charlie Melancon, Earl Pomeroy, David Loebsack, Bruce Braley, Brad Ellsworth, Tom McClintock, Allen Boyd, Russ Carnahan, David Scott, Larry Kissell, William Lacy Clay, and Howard Coble.


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