The National Grain Sorghum Producers announced earlier this week that a court decision and subsequent Environmental Protection ruling would ban an important crop protection product needed to combat sugar cane aphids, a growing problem across the Southern Plains.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently canceled all previous registrations of products that contain sulfoxaflor, an active compound found in Transform, a product made and sold by Dow AgroSciences. The cancellation came in response to a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the product was hastening the already alarming decline in honeybee populations.

Beekeepers and related environmental organizations challenged EPA's 2013 approval of sulfoxaflor.

Transform was widely used to control sugarcane aphids in sorghum during the 2014 and 2015 growing seasons. More than 10 states received Section 18 emergency use exemption to use the product to mitigate yield, revenue and acreage loss to thousands of U.S. sorghum acres.

“Transform has been an important tool for sorghum farmers across the nation to combat sugarcane aphids,” said J.B. Stewart, a farmer from Keyes, Oklahoma, and the past chairman of the National Sorghum Producers. “As an organization, we will work as hard as we can to ensure the product is available next year through the Section 18 process. NSP also stands ready to support Dow AgroSciences and the EPA in re-registering this essential product.”

He attributed the ruling to “an activist court.”

“We must go to bat to keep these tools available as we face stricter regulations and declining prices on the farm during trying and uncertain times,” he said.

Rodney Jones, an ag finance specialist at Oklahoma State University who owns farms in south central Kansas and northwest Oklahoma, said fighting the aphid had added considerably to break-even costs for sorghum farmers in that area. Some farmers had to treat the crop multiple times, adding an extra $20, $30 or even $50 an acre to their cost of production, he said.

The aphids have migrated north and west from south Texas. They excrete a sticky goo that reduces yield and can even gum up machinery.