EPA atrazine proposal draws criticism from corn groups
On June 30, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposed rule that would lower limits on the presence of the atrazine herbicide in water to 15 parts per billion, drawing opposition from major corn grower organizations.
Atrazine is used by farmers to control grass and broadleaf weeds before they emerge in corn, sorghum and sugarcane. Homeowners and golf course superintendents use atrazine to maintain residential lawns and golf courses.
“We are disappointed by EPA’s decision,” said National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Chris Edgington. “We can feed and fuel the world and fight climate change, but we can’t do these things without modern farming tools, and atrazine is a tool that is critical to our work.”
The EPA is accepting public comments on the proposed rule through Sept. 6.
To submit a comment, click here.
If the rule is adopted, more than 72% of U.S. corn acres would be out of compliance, according to corn grower associations in Kansas and Missouri.
Areas predicted to exceed the limit would then be required to implement and document one or more mitigation practices from an EPA “picklist” and use a lower rate of atrazine.
Even in flat areas with little or no runoff, EPA’s prediction model would require growers to use mitigation practices like adding buffer strips and terraces. Meanwhile, with no input from USDA, other viable options like split applications were not included on the proposed picklist.
Additionally, EPA is proposing label changes that reduce atrazine application rates by 20 percent, banning aerial applications and applying the herbicide within 48 hours of a predicted rain event that could produce runoff.
Kansas Corn Growers Association CEO Greg Krissek said the proposed rule is “clearly a case of agency overreach,” while Gary Marshall of Missouri said it is clear from the proposed rule that the EPA is attempting to eliminate effective use of atrazine.
To read the proposed changes, click here.