Several agricultural trade groups and grower associations have called on the government to extend the public consultation window for a commonly used herbicide.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reopened public comments on the Atrazine dossier in late June, with web comments becoming available later. The agency is reassessing permitted levels in local waterways, saying a level originally set by the EPA during the interim registration post was not sufficiently supported by science.
Farmers applying atrazine in an area where the predicted concentration in local waterways is expected to be less than 3.4 μg per liter will experience no change. Farmers in areas where the predicted concentration in local waterways is greater than 3.4 μg per liter will face the options required to mitigate the impact of the chemical. The options come in the form of a ‘pick list’ or list of possible measures from which the farmer can choose, including no-till, vegetative buffer strips and other measures.
The more atrazine applied to a farm, the more mitigation measures are needed, according to the proposed regulations.
Several Missouri-based farmer groups have combined to make a single request for a 60-day extension to the public comment period, which is currently set to expire Sept. 6. They include the Missouri Corn Growers Associationthe Missouri Soybean Associationthe Missouri Agricultural Bureau, Missouri Agribusiness Association, Missouri Farmer Careand Incorporated MFA.
“The proposed changes to the Interim Registration Review Decision are lengthy, complex, and highly technical and require the review and consideration of experts familiar with the subject matter,” the letter states. “Given the number of stakeholders potentially affected and the far-reaching implications that could result from the proposed changes to the use of atrazine, it is incumbent on the EPA to ensure that all parties have adequate time enough to learn about the proposed changes, understand how it translates to their operations and business, and provide meaningful feedback.”
“The current comment period does not provide CLA with sufficient opportunity to review proposed revisions, solicit feedback from its members, and develop constructive feedback,” the letter states.
The proposed changes have attracted at least one request not to change the levels, by the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension. The letter was written by Professor Tom Barber.
Weeds have become resistant to common herbicides in many parts of Arkansas, Barber points out. In many places where weeds have developed resistance to glyphosate or glufosinate, atrazine is essential for weed control, Barber writes.
“Growers in Arkansas need all available herbicide modes of action to control resistant pigweed and reduce the likelihood of increased resistance through the use of unique herbicide modes of action,” writes- he. “Removing atrazine or reducing the maximum use rate would require a viable tool from corn and sorghum growers and would increase the potential for herbicide resistance in Midsouth pigweed populations.”
The EPA accepts public comments on changes to atrazine are accepted onlinein addition by mail, e-mail and other forms.
More information is available on the EPA Record Website.
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