Grower Speaks Up Against EPA’s Herbicide Strategy

Nearly 1,500 farmers and pesticide applicators from across the country have come together to voice strong disapproval to the Environmental Protection Agency. The letter criticizes the agency’s Endangered Species Act herbicide strategy proposal.

The Environmental Protection Agency released a framework to protect endangered plant and animal species from the impacts of herbicide. The strategy is essentially a point system. If a farmer wants to use an herbicide, they would need a certain amount of points. They get points from certain conservation practices, such as contour strips, as one example. Points vary on the type of product, the conservation practice, and the location of the farm.

Kevin Malchine farms about 2,000 acres in Racine County. He was among the farmers who signed the letter to the EPA raising issue with the framework. He says the blanket approach will not work for everyone, and it could negatively impact both agricultural production and existing conservation efforts.

Growers argue that the point system is too complex. Again, the points vary on the type of herbicide, conservation practice, and location of the farm. Farmers were also concerned with the lack of affordable options so that growers could comply with the rules.

Malchine says farmers should be telling their conservation story more often. Agricultural groups argue that conservation practices depend on herbicides. For example, farmers use these products to terminate cover crops so that they can plant their primary crop. Herbicides can also replace tilling the soil, allowing for carbon to stay in the ground.

The American Soybean Association says that for some, the proposed regulations could cost millions of dollars. For others, their location may not allow them to use herbicides at all.

See the ASA’s one-pager on the proposed rules:

Read the letter from growers to EPA: