Senator Marshall, Colleagues Call on EPA to End Severe Restrictions on Crop Protection Tools
(Washington, D.C., February 22, 2022) – U.S. Senators Roger Marshall, M.D. (KS), Chuck Grassley (IA), Mike Braun (IN), and Joni Ernst (IA) sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan, calling on him to redirect the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs away from their current propensity for overly precautious, blanket bans and severe restrictions of necessary crop protection tools back towards a regular, risk-based regulatory process. This request follows a meeting between the Senators and Administrator Regan last month. The letter says in part,
“U.S. farmers and ranchers are already coping with record inflation and broken supply chains — the last thing they need is EPA voluntarily revoking or severely limiting traditional farming tools and methods. If these producers lose the ability to use certain crop protection products, farms will be forced to forgo conservation practices, like no-till farming, and revert to full tillage methods to control pests.”
Full text of the letter can be found HERE.
Administrator Regan’s EPA has made several decisions this last year that will dramatically impact agriculture:
On November 12, 2021 – EPA issued new Biological Evaluations for glyphosate, atrazine, and simazine that vastly inflate the number of species and habitats found likely to be adversely affected. Industry grower groups have sought to provide EPA with better, real-world data sources, including in comments on the draft biological evaluations (BE) — comments that EPA opted not to incorporate into the final BE. The final BE for glyphosate also assumes growers reapply chemistry a mere seven days after an initial application. This is an extraordinarily unrealistic assumption for any producer and increases model exposure risks for species. Growers provided these and other real-world examples and data sources to EPA in public comments, which EPA chose not to incorporate into its final BE.
EPA is legally obligated to engage, in length, on formal consultations with Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service every time it finds a pesticide is likely to affect a species. When EPA uses egregious assumptions in its BE that erroneously find more than 90% of species are affected, the agency is creating an enormous, unnecessary workload for itself and the services that none of the agencies have the resources to manage, which in turn creates a regulatory backlog fueling litigation. Triggering more species under the ESA via these evaluations opens the door for EPA to place overly restrictive mitigations requirements on the label.
On December 21, 2021, EPA put out an unrequired, not mandated report tallying up the “increased number of drift complaints” of Dicamba from last growing season. EPA has said publicly that there have been nearly 3,500 off-target movement inquiries on dicamba from the states, but we’ve seen reports that the state numbers are close to half of that. We can only presume this is an attempt to create a record to abandon the current label. Without meaningful use of over-the-top dicamba for the 2022 growing season, hundreds of thousands of farmers would likely be deprived of seed or herbicide during spring planting, which would be devastating for the agricultural economy
In September 2020, after several years of evaluation in the Registration Review, EPA approved and published the final Interim Registration Review Decision (IRRD) for the triazine herbicides. In this decision, EPA approved and published a revised CELOC (concentration-equivalent level of concern) used to determine potential risk to aquatic plant communities at 15 ppb. Shortly after the IRRD was published, activist groups filed a petition in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals alleging that EPA violated its duties under FIFRA when it approved the Interim Registration Review Decisions for atrazine, simazine and propazine. Last year, in an unprecedented move, EPA, in a motion in the court case, announced its intention to go back after the final decision was published and reevaluate that 15 ppb number which would create confusion about product use and monitoring if the agency changes the number.
On August 18, 2021, in response to a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, EPA made the overly conservative, political decision to revoke all food tolerances and to stop the use of Chlorpyrifos rather than modify the tolerances.