New bill aims to safeguard pesticides for farmers from the EPA

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 1:58 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A new bill introduced by Senator Roger Marshall aims to safeguard pesticides depended on by farmers from the EPA’s regulation changes.

On Thursday, July 21, U.S. Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) says he introduced the EPA Transparency for Agriculture Products Act - a bill to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from overregulating pesticides the agriculture industry heavily depends upon.

“At a time when Kansas’ farmers and ranchers are coping with record inflation and broken supply chains, the last thing they need is the EPA revoking or severely limiting traditional farming tools and methods,” said Sen. Marshall, “Access to safe, effective pesticides is vital for allowing farmers to continue to efficiently and sustainably feed, clothe, and fuel the world.”

Specifically, Marshall said the bill would take steps to ensure transparency and accountability within the EPA’s processes for pesticides.

“It’s simple, farmers need critical crop protection tools like glyphosate to feed the world. Farmers use it on 40% of all acres in the US and it enables more than $50 billion dollars of production annually. We appreciate this bill that will provide farmers with continued access to these and other crop protection tools prospectively,” said Teresa Brandenburg, Kansas Soybean Association President.

In July 2021, Marshall said he sent a letter to EPA Assistant Administrator Dr. Michal Freehoff to urge her to ensure pesticide registrations and rulemaking is based on proven science to prevent unnecessary and burdensome regulations for Kansas agricultural producers.

“Sorghum production was born from no-till farming in Kansas. For farmers to effectively use no-till practices they MUST have access to pesticides to control weeds, including Atrazine. Unfortunately, we’ve seen from this EPA a reluctance to recognize the importance of pesticides to no-till farming. Thank you, Senator Marshall, for introducing measures that direct EPA to ensure we can still access crop protection tools,” said Jesse McCurry, Kansas Grain Sorghum Executive Director.

In January, Marshall also said he joined a group of his peers to discuss with EPA officials the problematic direction the agency has headed with decisions that restrict access to safe and necessary crop protection products.

“EPA is using regulatory tricks to drastically limit farmers’ use of critical inputs like Atrazine. A recent proposal would restrict its use on corn in almost all of Kansas leaving no cost-effective way to control herbicide resistance. EPA should refocus its attention on sound science and transparency is key to that,” said Greg Krissek, Kansas Corn Growers Association CEO.

In February, Marshall noted that he led a letter to EPA Administrator Regan which called on him to redirect the Office of Pesticide Programs away from its current focus of overly precautious, blanket bans and end restrictions of necessary crop protection tools and back toward a regular risk-based regulatory process.

“The U.S. cotton industry has worked with EPA over the years to educate the agency on the importance of maintaining workable labels for crop protection tools. We look forward to working with Senator Marshall and EPA to ensure that the needs of cotton farmers are met in the pesticide registration process,” said Ted Schneider, National Cotton Council Chairman and producer from Louisiana.

Lastly, in June 2022, Marshall said he led a letter to President Joe Biden which urged him to defend glyphosate and other crop protection products.

Marshall noted that adverse actions taken by the EPA on pesticides include:

  • Chlorpyrifos - The EPA points to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for its decision to revoke all food tolerances for Chlorpyrifos in August 2021. However, the option was given to the EPA to retain 11 safe uses of the product.
  • Biological Evaluations - The EPA will now evaluate the potential effects of the active ingredients and initiate an ESA consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before registration. This will add months to an already tedious pesticide registration process.
  • Dicamba - On Dec. 21, 2021, the EPA released a report which tallied the “increased number of drift complaints” of Dicamba from the previous growing season. Marshall said he interpreted this as an attempt to build a record to justify the abandonment or restriction of the current label in future seasons.
  • Atrazine - On June 30, 2022, the EPA proposed new restrictions on atrazine which impacts more than 70% of all U.S. corn acreage. The EPA proposed a low aquatic level of concern of 3.4 parts per billion which is a level not supported by scientific research. The previous level of concern established in 2020 was set at 15 parts per billion.
  • Glyphosate - On May 10, 2022, The U.S. Solicitor general reversed a long-held view on federal preemption, siding with the Plaintiff’s Bar on the impending litigation and recommending the Supreme Court not hear the case on a product used on about 40% of farm acreage.

To read a full copy of the legislation, click HERE.

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