The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) is speaking out against the EPA's proposed atrazine use revisions, saying stricter regulations could force farmers to abandon no-till and other environmentally beneficial practices.
The agency proposed new rules for atrazine use in June. The proposed rules would reduce the concentration equivalent level of concern equivalent from 15 parts per billion (ppb) to 3.4 ppb, reduce atrazine usage to a maximum of 2 pounds per acre per year, prohibit aerial spraying, and ban atrazine applications to saturated soils, as well as within 48 hours of forecasted heavy precipitation. Growers in areas where the concentration equivalent level of concern would exceed 3.4 ppb would be required to apply mitigation measures from "picklists" furnished by the EPA.
In a comment posted to the atrazine docket Oct. 14, NASDA expressed concern that the atrazine restrictions would significantly increase weed pressure and risk forcing farmers to abandon no-till in exchange for deep tillage to control weeds.
"The potential benefits of no-till are well-documented, from improving soil health to reducing annual fuel and labor investments," the comment reads. "With all the administration’s efforts to battle climate change, it is difficult to comprehend that the EPA would finalize a rule that knowingly endangers the environment by forcing farmers to backtrack on the adoption of the most significant soil conservation advances of the last century."
NASDA joins Syngenta and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles in commenting against the proposed rules, as well as the Triazine Network, a coalition of state and national agricultural groups that rely on atrazine and other triazine herbicides to control weeds. A press release from the Triazine Network said its more than 16,000 farmers and ag organizations are frustrated with the EPA’s efforts to "implement measures that would end effective use of atrazine for weed control."
The EPA's comment period ended Oct. 7, and the agency is now reviewing the comments. According to the docket for the atrazine proposal, "revisions to the atrazine interim registration review decision memorandum will explain the effect that any comments had on the revisions to the atrazine interim registration review decision and provide the agency's response to significant comments."