Lawmakers Rally for Pesticides

Republican Lawmakers Demand EPA Preserve Access to Dicamba and Other Pesticides

Emily Unglesbee
By  Emily Unglesbee , DTN Staff Reporter
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Republican lawmakers have sent a series of letters to EPA, demanding that the agency preserve farmer access to various ag pesticides, including dicamba and chlorpyrifos. (DTN file photo)

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- Spurred by concerns of regulatory overreach, Republican legislators have sent two letters to EPA Administrator Michael Regan in February, focused on farmer access to various agricultural pesticides, including dicamba and chlorpyrifos.

The first letter, sent on Feb. 11, was signed by 60 Republican members of the House of Representatives and focused on EPA's December 2021 report detailing widespread allegations and reports of off-target dicamba injury in the past year. The lawmakers question the accuracy of that report and demand that the agency ensure farmers have access to the three over-the-top dicamba herbicides (XtendiMax, Engenia and Tavium) for the 2022 growing season, without additional restrictions.

The EPA report in question is now being highlighted in a federal lawsuit against EPA over those three dicamba registrations. (See more on that here:…). And although EPA has stated that it cannot act to make label changes to these herbicides before the 2022 spray season, the agency has promised to work with any states that want to issue additional dicamba restrictions.

"With spring planting fewer than three months away, the vast majority of growers have already placed crop input orders," the lawmakers wrote. "If EPA were to impose significant new restrictions on dicamba or other herbicides at this time, U.S. farmers would be devastated," See the letter here:….

A second letter was sent to EPA on Feb. 18 and signed by four U.S. senators: Roger Marshall, R-Kan.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Mike Braun, R-Ind.; and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. This letter posed a series of questions and proposed actions for EPA on chlorpyrifos, dicamba, triazines and the EPA's biological evaluations, which examine pesticide registrations' potential impact on endangered species.

"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," the senators wrote. "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."

See the senators' letter here:….

The flurry of letters speaks to growing concerns among farmers, industry and lawmakers over the priorities of the Biden EPA, which has spent the past year issuing new decisions and rules that restrict farmer access to some pesticides.

Back in November 2021, a group of 31 Republican lawmakers sent a letter to EPA, criticizing its actions on glyphosate and atrazine, as well as the agency's decision to revoke food tolerances for chlorpyrifos, essentially banning the insecticide's use in agriculture. See that here:….

Most recently, a group of 21 agricultural trade groups filed a lawsuit against the agency over its pending chlorpyrifos ban, set to go into effect on Feb. 28. (See more here:….)

Farmers and industry are also concerned over EPA's new policy of fully complying with the Endangered Species Act when registering pesticides. The new policy resulted in some surprising, county-level prohibitions on two Enlist herbicide labels released in January, and the EPA is scrutinizing other ag pesticides, such as glyphosate and atrazine, for endangered species risks. See more on that here:… and here:….

In addition to communicating their concerns to EPA, farmers, industry and state regulators have petitioned the agency through Rod Snyder, the newly appointed agriculture adviser to EPA. See more on that here:….

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Emily Unglesbee