WASHINGTON — The US Supreme Court overturned decades-old legal precedent on June 28, which could impact the US Department of Agriculture and other agencies’ ability to regulate in the future.

The so-called Chevron Doctrine previously allowed federal agencies to interpret laws when established federal statutes were unclear. If statutes were ambiguous, federal agencies were able to decide what was meant in cases due to the precedent set by Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council in 1984.

The 6-3 ruling by the Supreme Court, Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, could impact several sectors, including agriculture and the environment.

After the decision, several trade associations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), expressed support for the court ruling and its potential benefit to farmers.

“Farm Bureau applauds the US Supreme Court for recognizing the damage Chevron deference has caused to the federal government’s balance of power,” said Zippy Duvall, president of AFBF. “For decades, Congress has passed vague laws and left it to federal agencies and the courts to figure out how to implement them. AFBF has been a leading voice on this issue and has argued on behalf of farmers who are caught in a regulatory back and forth when administrations change the rules based on political priorities instead of relying on the legislative process. We are pleased the Court heard those concerns.”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) also lauded the decision.

“Our elected officials in Congress should be making our laws, not unelected bureaucrats at federal agencies,” said Mark Eisele, president of NCBA. “Cattle producers have experienced numerous instances of federal agencies enacting overreaching regulations on our farms and ranches, exceeding their authority granted by Congress. I am glad the Supreme Court is reining in these federal agencies and putting power back in the hands of those elected to represent us in Washington.”

The NCBA has previously worked with other national agricultural and business organizations on an amicus brief to overrule Chevron’s deference.

“In the last four decades, Congress has ceded authority to unelected federal bureaucrats who make the regulations that impact farmers and ranchers every day,” said Mary-Thomas Hart, chief counsel of NCBA. “Long-term, this decision will impact almost every regulation that NCBA has worked on. The decision puts Congress back in the driver’s seat for crafting policy, reins in the administrative state, and strengthens accountability by ensuring that the people we elect are the ones crafting our nation’s laws.”

The decision by the Supreme Court also could put recent USDA proposals for reforms in the Fair and Competitive Livestock and Poultry Markets rule announced on June 25 in a more difficult position.