Ag News

Public Policy Breakout Sessions: Environmental Issues

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Agricultural Advisor Jeff Sands said the agency is making a concerted effort to work with farmers to make sure their concerns are taken into consideration during rulemaking.

“It’s a high priority for the administrator to meet effectively with the ag community,” said Sands, who provides agricultural information to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “He cares about the small and medium-sized farmer. Everything we bring him, he wants to know how it is going to impact Company X and then what about Farmer John?”

Sands, part of a panel of speakers in the Environmental Issues Breakout Session at the Georgia Farm Bureau Convention, gave updates on a court ruling concerning reporting under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Nov. 22 that mandated reporting would be delayed until Jan. 22, 2018.

Sands also discussed use of dicamba and label changes prompted by spray drift concerns in multiple states. Among these, he said, dicamba is being classified as a restricted use product that may only be used under permit by certified applicators and those working directly under their supervision. Sands said there are updated recordkeeping requirements and the herbicide can only be applied when wind speeds are below 10 mph.

Sands addressed the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule put in place by EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2015. Sands said EPA has requested a two-year extension of the pre-2015 rule.

Mark Masters of the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center and Marjie Dickey, manager of the Georgia EPD Agriculture Water Project, presented information about the state’s work to install meters on agricultural irrigation systems.