Washington, D.C. Oct. 23, 2023. Nearly 1,500 farmers, ranchers, pesticide applicators, and agricultural producers from across the country have come together to voice strong disapproval to EPA, criticizing the agency’s Endangered Species Act herbicide strategy framework proposal. The agricultural producers, who called for withdrawal of the strategy in a letter sent to EPA, expressed grave concern over the impacts it would likely have on U.S. agricultural production and conservation efforts.
The hundreds and hundreds of farmers and other individuals raised numerous issues with the proposal in the letter, including that it is very complex and makes it difficult for producers and applicators to even determine their regulatory requirements. There were also concerns with the proposal lacking sufficient, affordable options with which growers can comply. For many producers, the new regulations would cost their farms millions of dollars, while others may be unable to comply at all, jeopardizing their access to needed herbicides and thus threatening their businesses.
“Weeds are one of the most devastating pests farmers face,” said Alan Meadows, a soybean grower from Halls, Tennessee, and director of the American Soybean Association. “Weeds can steal limited water and nutrients from the soil and crowd out your crop. If not properly managed, they can quickly overtake a field and even result in total crop failure. If the herbicide strategy or other regulations deprive us of the tools needed to manage these destructive pests, many farms across the U.S. will struggle to stay afloat.”
Importantly, the letter also cites concerns farmers have with the proposal’s likely impact on the environment. Many conservation practices, such as reduced tillage and cover crops, are highly dependent on herbicide access. Most growers in the U.S. terminate their cover crops with herbicides before planting their primary crop. Herbicides also afford farmers an alternative to tilling the soil to eradicate weeds, allowing for soil carbon sequestration and significant reductions in both soil erosion and tractor fuel use. These and other environmental benefits could be at risk if farmers lose access to herbicides under this proposal.
Read the full farmer letter to EPA here.