Publications: Pesticides


Preemption Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act

Jordan Hartman, Research Fellow, National Agricultural Law Center
Brigit Rollins, Staff Attorney, National Agricultural Law Center

Any pesticide that is sold or distributed in the United States must have a label registered with the Environmental Protection Agency according to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Registered labels include information such as how the pesticide may be used, when it may be used, and to which crops it may be applied. These labels are federal law, and generally states are prohibited from adopting pesticide labeling or packaging standards that are “in addition” to or “different from” federal standards. This factsheet discusses the ability of states to regulate pesticides, and where a state may be limited by federal preemption. Download this articlePosted 4/28/21 


FIFRA: Steps to Pesticide Registration

Luke Vance, Research Fellow, National Agricultural Law Center
Brigit Rollins, Staff Attorney, National Agricultural Law Center

All pesticides that will be sold or distributed in the United States must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) according to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (“FIFRA”). The registration process involves an evaluation of the required forms, proposed labeling, technical and scientific data, and a statement of how the registrant will comply with any data compensation requirements. This factsheet discusses the components of a pesticide registration, highlights labeling and usage requirements, and walks readers through the process itself. Download this articlePosted 10/7/2020 


50-State Survey: Landowner Liability for Spray Drift

Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, Agricultural Law Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Hannes Zetzsche, Research Fellow, National Agricultural Law Center

Landowners who apply or contract for the application of pesticide may have concern over their potential liability should pesticide drift occur and cause damage to neighboring crops. Generally, lawsuits related to drift sound in negligence. However, there are two additional potential claims that may arise in these cases of which landowners should be aware. Specifically, the first issue relates to whether the application of pesticides is considered inherently dangerous. This is a critical question because under tort law in most states, a landowner is not liable for the acts of his or her independent contractor. One exception to that general rule provides that landowners may be held liable for actions of an independent contractor if the action being taken by the contractor is considered to be inherently dangerous. The second issue relates to a claim of strict liability against persons who apply pesticide. Unlike the more common negligence theory, strict liability does not consider the reasonableness of the defendant’s action. Instead, this legal theory imposes almost automatic liability if certain actions are taken. This paper includes a state-by-state survey, including citations, of what state courts have decided in regards to 1) whether pesticide application is inherently dangerous, and 2) whether strict liability is applicable in pesticide drift cases. Download this articlePosted 1/22/2020 


Issue Brief: United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Orders EPA to Ban Chlorpyrifos

James Wilkerson, Research Fellow; National Agricultural Law Center
Elizabeth Rumley, Senior Staff Attorney; National Agricultural Law Center

This short informational piece provides essential background, current events, relevant legal issues, and additional resources regarding the 9th Circuit’s 2018 order to ban chlorpyrifos.  Further, it provides a current legal status to the case. Download this articlePosted 11/29/18 

Potential Spray Drift Damage: What Steps to Take?

Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

As many farmers know all too well, applications of various pesticides can result in drift and cause damage to neighboring property owners.  In recent years, incidences of spray drift damage have been frequent and well-publicized.  In the event a farmer discovers damage to his or her own crop, this article details some important steps for the injured producer to take.  Download this articlePosted 10/25/17 

Supreme Court Considers Preemption of State Law Claims Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act

Harrison M. Pittman Staff Attorney National Agricultural Law Center

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) regulates the use and distribution of pesticides through comprehensive labeling and registration requirements.  FIFRA provides the federal government wide latitude to regulate pesticides but authorizes states to play a role as well.  In particular, FIFRA provides that “[a] State may regulate the sale or use of any federally registered pesticide or device in the State, but only if and to the extent the regulation does not permit any sale or use prohibited by this subchapter.”  It also provides that “[s]uch State shall not impose or continue in effect any requirements for labeling or packaging in addition to or different from those required under this subchapter.  The issue arises as to whether state common law tort claims are preempted by FIFRA because the claims impose requirements “in addition to or different” from those imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, the federal agency responsible for implementing FIFRA.  This article discusses FIFRA, the evolution of courts’ views regarding FIFRA preemption of state law tort claims, and two recent federal circuit court decisions, one of which the United States Supreme Court has agreed to review.    Download this article Posted:  April 19, 2005