Ken Root & Whitney Flach
In times of low commodity prices, farmers are careful to keep their input costs low. It is a given that every acre of tillable land will be planted but the cost of production on each acre is lower low margin years like we are having now. The EPA is not helping, as it attempts to change the rules on use of an effective and economical crop protection product called Atrazine.
Farmers know it well as the herbicide came out in the 1960’s and has been applied to millions of acres every year since. EPA doesn’t like the attributes of the product because it moves in the soil and volatilizes in air. Traces can be found in groundwater and in the atmosphere for several days after application.
The agency has done nothing to allow a replacement as new pesticides are very hard to register so old products stay on the market. The government regulation is like a glacier, it may be slow but the end result is unstoppable.
Once again, EPA wants to take Atrazine off the market. Farmers, once again, are fighting back. You may want to consider joining in, as this one looks like a bigger push by government than in past years.
Farmers will feel the pinch in their pocketbook if the Environmental Protection Agency changes the rules on Atrazine. A new report shows that if the EPA moves forward with its proposal on Atrazine, it will cost the industry $2.5 billion in yield losses and increased input costs.
EPA released its draft ecological risk assessment for Atrazine in June, as part of the re-registration process for the herbicide. If the recommendations included within the assessment stand, it would effectively ban Atrazine.
Wesley Spurlock, a corn farmer from Stratford, Texas, he serves as the National Corn Growers Association’s First Vice President. Spurlock says Atrazine is a valuable and safe tool for corn growers, but the EPA assessment could take that tool away at the expense of farmers.
“There has been a couple studies done and they are coming back if you lose the Atrazine and have to go to other chemicals that may be less effective. We are looking at a $30-59 an acre income loss at a time markets and net profits have dropped 50% in the last year and a half,” Spurlock says.
Further, the impact will trickle down into the rural economy. He says, the EPA draft assessment on Atrazine poses a threat to other crop protection products as well.
EPA is accepting public comments on the assessment through October 4th. Spurlock urged farmers to submit their comments to the EPA to protect the use of Atrazine. Commits can be submitted online at http://www.ncga.com/atz