Western Growers has announced its support of regulations establishing a more efficient system to protect endangered species and ensure growers can protect produce crops against pests, diseases and weeds.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and NOAA Fisheries, known as the Services, finalized new regulations recently establishing for the first time an approach to protect threatened and endangered species as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's approval process for pest control products. The regulations were developed following a comprehensive scientific review of EPA's risk assessment methodology. Under the new rule, the government has established procedures that assure registered pesticides can continue to be used safely without posing harm to species and habitats protected under the ESA. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to make the initial determination that a pesticide is not likely to adversely affect a listed species.

“Western Growers has long called for the integration of these agencies. The restrictions had seriously affected our nation's farmers' abilities to provide affordable food and fiber. This new approach will allow the Services to focus their resources on those consultations that will have the greatest benefit for the species,” said Hank Giclas, Western Growers vice president of science and technology.

“This rule provides stronger protections for our endangered species and enables growers to continue to provide safe fresh produce while also assuring these products can be used safely in areas where endangered species are found.”