Pesticide registration in the United States is governed by two primary statues, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), as administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA or Agency), and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), collectively referred to as the “Services”.

When a pesticide is registered under FIFRA, the Federal “action” must also be in compliance with the ESA. Failure of the USEPA to consult with, and/or failure of the Services to assess, results in non-compliance under Section 7 of the ESA and creates opportunities for litigious intervention, which essentially brings the entire process to a standstill.

So…what’s the solution?

The Agency has proposed a strategy (see: USEPA’s Herbicide Strategy and/or ESA Work Plan) to implement upfront mitigations as a mechanism to offset potential risks and ensure compliance in order to address the backlog, create efficiency and meet court-mandated timelines. Under such a scenario growers would essentially be tasked with selecting mitigations from a “menu” or “picklist” (e.g., alley cropping, constructed wetlands, contour farming, cover cropping, grassed waterways, mulching with natural materials, no-till, riparian buffer zones, strip cropping, terrace farming, vegetative filter strips and field borders, and ponds for water and sediment control) in accordance with a rather arbitrary point system (or variation thereof) to be able to use a given pesticide product.

However, what mitigations, how many, where and when? Does a screening-level risk analysis adequately inform mitigation necessity? To explore these questions an initiative was launched to evaluate the economic implications, practicality/feasibility, and effectiveness of the proposed mitigation strategy. These analyses have all now been published (open access) and are available as a resource for reference.

Inventory/practicality/feasibility/suitability (Waterborne Environmental Andy Jacobson):

Efficacy/risk reduction (Stone Environmental Scott Teed):

Economic implications (Compliance Services International Leah Duzy):

Related Content: 

Latest Pesticide Guidelines Could Have Significant Consequences for No-Tillers,

A Realistic Look at Refining EPA Pesticide Spray Drift Regulations,

No-Till vs. Mud, Fire & Water Facebook Videos