LINCOLN, NEB. – Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) is urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to roll back its ban of two popular herbicides, Enlist and Enlist Duo, and conduct a thorough examination of new Endangered Species Act (ESA) data recently made available. The ban comes after the EPA cited concerns with several species listed under the ESA, including the American burying beetle (ABB).
“The county-level bans recently announced for these important crop protection products takes a vital tool out of our farmer’s toolbox. As Nebraska’s planting season is now weeks away, an expedited examination and subsequent reversal of these new prohibitions is needed as soon as possible,” NEFB President Mark McHargue said.
In a letter to the EPA Administrator Michael Regan, NEFB acknowledged and expressed appreciation for the EPA’s recent work to reregister both Enlist and Enlist Duo for seven years, while also pointing out the work to reregister the products means very little to the farmers who live and work in one of the 32 Nebraska counties now banned from using the products all together.
According to USDA data from 2020, the 32 Nebraska counties included in the ban constitute over 1.02 million acres of soybeans planted or roughly 20 percent of the state’s entire acreage. NEFB says, as one of the state’s top valued commodities, this ban has the potential to impact roughly $560 million worth of soybeans. NEFB says corn producers would also be affected as the ban has the potential to impact approximately 30 percent of Nebraska corn acres or roughly $1.8 billion worth of another top commodity for the state of Nebraska, according to USDA data.
“This challenge has been heightened by the proximity of this announcement to spring planting, as many growers have already taken delivery of Enlist herbicide and seed, they now cannot use. Switching to a different herbicide-tolerant seed is not an easy solution. Supply chain disruptions have impacted the cost and availability of alternative herbicides, and desired hybrids and varieties are likely already reserved and unavailable,” McHargue said.
In the letter, NEFB also addressed the driving force behind most of the county-level prohibitions in Nebraska, the ABB. NEFB says it should be noted that eight of the Nebraska counties included in the proposed ban fall outside of the ABB’s critical habitat, according to the latest information from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Therefore, NEFB is urging the EPA to review recently received new data regarding the status of ABB and any potential effects of Enlist on this species.
“Farm and ranch families want clean air, clean water, and want to protect our nation’s endangered species, but Nebraska farmers must continue to have access to a wide array of crop protection products for both agronomic and conservation purposes. We strongly urge the EPA to avoid inflexible, county-level prohibitions which are very disruptive to growers and their ability to meet our food, fuel, and fiber needs and maintain important conservation efforts. We would also discourage announcements of new product restrictions so close to spring planting, especially when growers have already made input purchases expecting certain product use conditions,” McHargue said.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau is a grassroots, state-wide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans through a wide variety of educational, service, and advocacy efforts. More than 55,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about Nebraska Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit www.nefb.org.