ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- The EPA made a combined announcement today on two topics: the management of hemp production and the future of atrazine use.
The agency recently registered 10 pesticides for use on hemp, to help alleviate the current dearth of products that are legal and safe to use in the fast-growing industry of commercial hemp production.
The agency also laid out a proposed interim registration decision on atrazine, including lower use rates and new label requirements, as part of the agency's re-registration review of the chemical. The decision will be posted for public comment for 60 days in the Federal Register, before EPA makes a final decision on it.
HEMP PESTICIDE RELIEF
Nine of the newly registered hemp products are biopesticides, and one is a conventional pesticide. Most contain ingredients that have long been lightly regulated, such as neem oil, soybean oil and garlic oil, which have insecticidal, miticidal and fungicidal characteristics.
You can see the full list of products here: https://www.epa.gov/….
Although these biopesticides are unlikely to solve all hemp growers' pesticide needs, which range from insect infestations to disease and weed problems, they're a hopeful sign for an industry that has raced ahead of the government's regulatory abilities since commercial hemp production was legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill.
Last year, many hemp growers had few legal options to control any pests in their field and those that existed varied from state to state, depending on local pesticide rules.
"Today's announcement by the United States Environmental Protection Agency is a step in the right direction for the nation's growing hemp industry," Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said in the press release. "It is important our growers have new technologies and tools to better help protect their crops and increase their yields."
Atrazine is widely used in agriculture across a range of crops, primarily corn but also sugarcane and sorghum, as well as a smaller amount of use in landscape care.
As part of its routine re-registration review of atrazine, EPA has been releasing draft ecological and human health risk assessments in the past few years for public comment. Now the agency has published its proposed interim registration decision on atrazine and two related chemicals, propazine and simazine. The decision would re-register atrazine for continued use, albeit with some new rules and label changes. The most significant of those appear to be a lower use rate for residential turf applications, new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and handling requirements and new label language aimed at mitigating spray drift.
The new labels will require no spraying during a temperature inversion, a 15-mph wind speed restriction for aerial and ground applications, as well as specific boom and nozzle requirements.
The EPA also proposed ending one of two ongoing atrazine water-monitoring programs that started in 2004.
See more details on the atrazine registration proposal here: https://www.epa.gov/….
"Although there are potential risks of concern associated with the use of atrazine, with the adoption of the mitigation measures ... any remaining potential worker and/or ecological risks are outweighed by the benefits associated with use of atrazine," the agency wrote in its proposed decision.
The decision was criticized by environmental groups that have lobbied for atrazine to be banned entirely in the past, based on longstanding concerns about human health risks and environmental problems, particularly concerning water quality.
"Restricting the spraying of atrazine is essential for protecting human health," said Olga Naidenko, the Environmental Working Group's vice president for science investigations, in a press release issued by the Center for Biological Diversity. "Instead, the Trump EPA's proposal would increase atrazine discharges, endangering children's health and harming communities. Since the beginning of the Trump administration, the agency has been working overtime on behalf of chemical agriculture while acting against the interests of children's health." See the press release here: https://biologicaldiversity.org/….
See the agency's announcement, links to proposed decisions on all three chemicals and links to the Federal Register dockets for public comments here: https://www.epa.gov/….
Emily Unglesbee can be reached at Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org
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