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AFBF, 13 State FBs File Motion in Atrazine Case

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 23, 2003 – The American Farm Bureau Federation, 13 state Farm Bureaus (collectively Farm Bureau) and other agricultural groups filed a motion today for full party defendant status in the atrazine case Natural Resources Defense Council v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al. The suit is being heard in the U.S. District Court for the district of Maryland in Baltimore.

The motion requests the court to allow Farm Bureau to join the case to address the claims and relief sought by NRDC that the use of atrazine be prohibited until EPA has studied its effects on endangered species. Under federal procedural rules, Farm Bureau seeks intervention status as a matter of right because of interests at stake for its members and the nation’s agricultural producers. According to the organization, agricultural interests won’t be adequately represented by any of the parties in the case.

Agriculture relies heavily on atrazine as a safe, economic and extremely effective crop protection tool. On the market for over 45 years, the herbicide “has become one of the most important and widely used herbicides in U.S. agriculture production because of its effectiveness in suppressing weeds without injuring the crops themselves,” according to the motion.

Alternative herbicides provide less weed control and are not as likely to protect crops from injury, Farm Bureau contends.

Atrazine is used on about two-thirds of all U.S. grown corn and sorghum and as much as 90 percent of the nation’s sugarcane. For decades, farmers have invested heavily in necessary equipment for atrazine use, personnel training on the proper handling of the herbicide and formulating product development plans for atrazine.

If atrazine were banned, farmers would lose “hundreds of millions - perhaps close to a billion - dollars,” states the motion.

Depending on the court’s docket, it could be several weeks before a decision is made if it will accept the agricultural organization’s motion to become full party to the suit.

The 13 state Farm Bureaus joining the motion include: Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

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Contacts: Mace Thornton
(202) 406-3641
macet@fb.org
Tracy Grondine
(202) 406-3642
tracyg@fb.org