Ag Policy Blog

Vilsack Not Consulted on Solicitor General's Brief on Glyphosate Labeling Case

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
In a U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on Thursday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told senators the Justice Department did not consult him or USDA on a court brief in a case over how Monsanto/Bayer AG should label glyphosate after a California state law required that the herbicide be labeled as carcinogenic. EPA does not require Bayer AG to use such language on its labeling of the herbicide.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Thursday that the Justice Department did not consult him about the amicus brief in which the Solicitor General advised the Supreme Court not to hold a hearing on a petition from Monsanto (which is now owned by Bayer) to review a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that that Monsanto violated a California state-law duty to warn that exposure to Roundup could cause cancer even though the Environmental Protection Agency has maintained for decades that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.

The brief has infuriated farm groups, which have asked President Biden to withdraw it on the grounds that it runs counter to decades of federal policy that labeling is a federal matter.

As DTN has reported, 54 farm groups sent a letter to President Joe Biden calling on him to withdraw the before in the case.…

At a hearing, Vilsack made the statement in response to a question from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

A few minutes later, Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., asked Vilsack, "Are you pushing back (on the Biden administration) on glyphosate?"

Vilsack responded, "I've actually talked to the EPA about crop protection and encouraged the EPA to continue to follow the science. That is what American agriculture is asking us to do."

Marshall pressed Vilsack again, asking him, "But you just testified to Sen. Grassley that you weren't consulted but now you're saying you're being proactive?"

Vilsack responded, "Basically, I have talked to the EPA about crop protection activities and products, and encouraged the EPA to continue to follow the science, and encouraged them to listen to farmers and farmers' concerns, and frankly, they have."

An EPA spokeswoman told DTN on Thursday that she could not say that day whether the Justice Department had consulted EPA on the brief.

The Democratic-leaning National Farmers Union on Thursday sent Biden a letter essentially agreeing with the other farm groups.

National Farmers Union President Rob Larew wrote, "The solicitor general's brief adopts a position that would not only apply to glyphosate, but to any crop protection product."

"Thus, the decision taken in the brief may undermine the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act -- the primary federal statute governing pesticides -- and open the door to an impractical patchwork of state pesticide labeling requirements.

"We are concerned that the decision taken in the brief could threaten producers' access to glyphosate and other crop protection products through state regulations that are not science-based."

- Hardeman v Monsanto -- Opinion on Appeal…

- Solicitor general's brief…

- Monsanto petition…

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at

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