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POLICY WATCH

NEFB Demands EPA Preserve Access to Atrazine

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released for public comment a rule to add additional restrictions on the use of atrazine, a product that has been in use for over 60 years. These restrictions would greatly limit the use of this important product. The new restrictions include the following label changes for all atrazine products:

  • Prohibit application when soils are saturated or above field capacity (i.e., the soil’s ability to retain water);
  • Prohibit application during rain or when a storm event, likely to produce runoff from the treated area, is forecasted to occur within 48 hours following application;
  • Prohibit aerial applications of all formulations; and
  • Restrict annual application rates to 2 pounds of active ingredient or less per acre per year or less for applications to sorghum, field corn, and sweet corn.

In addition, EPA is proposing to add a “picklist” to labels that would require growers to select a combination of application rate reductions and/or runoff control measures when using atrazine in watersheds with atrazine concentrations that exceed the CE-LOC of 3.4 μg/L. 

Following the release from EPA, Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) immediately called for farmers and ranchers to submit comments letting EPA know how important this chemistry is as farmers continue to implement better conservation practices including no-till. Over 200 individuals submitted comments to the EPA through NEFB’s Action Alert.

NEFB submitted their own comments letting the agency know the loss of atrazine would cost Nebraska corn farmers $180 million in additional herbicide expenses or $8,399 per farm. For Nebraska sorghum farmers, the loss of atrazine would add up to $4.95 million or $5,387 per farm in additional herbicide expenses. “For more than 60 years, atrazine has served as an affordable weed-control tool for farmers. The benefits to using atrazine, propazine, and simazine are evident in the widespread adoption of these active ingredients and the resulting economic and environmental benefits. NEFB fully supports the continued access to this product as it has been proven time and again to provide both environmental and economic benefits,” said Mark McHargue, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

Ag Leaders Testify at CAFO Permit Requirement Hearing

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) held a hearing recently to gather input on the reapproval of their permit requirements of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO). While the Nebraska Ag Leaders working group submitted comments on the process, other organizations, some of which were based out-of-state, used the forum as an opportunity to speak against existing livestock operations regulated by the NDEE. The Ag Leaders working group consists of Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska State Dairy Association, Nebraska Pork Producers, Nebraska Corn Growers, Nebraska Soybean Association, and Nebraska Wheat Growers.

Following the hearing, the NDEE indicated that a call for clarification in the permitting process seemed to be needed, though also stated that the process followed now ensures safe working environments while working with producers. Nebraska Farm Bureau will continue to monitor the process of updating permits on CAFO’s to ensure that producers can continue to responsibly operate livestock facilities.

NEFB Supports Legislation to Expedite Federal Cost-Sharing Relief After Natural Disasters

U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM.) recently introduced the Emergency Conservation Program Improvement Act to expedite producers’ access to federal disaster relief. The legislation would specifically reform the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) to provide producers impacted by disasters with the option to receive an up-front cost-share, based on existing USDA estimates. The bill would also adjust eligibility for relief to include any wildfire caused or spread due to natural causes, as well as wildfires caused by the federal government.

“Nebraska has seen its share of weather-related disasters over the past several years, including widespread flooding and large wildfires. These events have unfortunately led many farmers and ranchers to seek disaster assistance through USDA’s Emergency Conservation Program (ECP). “Senator Fischer’s Emergency Conservation Program Improvement Act is a must-pass piece of legislation that addresses many of the shortcomings we’ve heard from farmers and ranchers about the program. Rebuilding fencing for livestock or clearing substantial debris from fields shouldn’t be slowed down by bureaucratic red tape. We thank Senator Fischer for offering this legislation to help make some needed improvements to this important program,” said Mark McHargue, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

Policy Resolutions Due Nov. 4

Having good information is critical in evaluating agriculture policy issues. There’s always more to the story and digging into the issues is important. Nebraska Farm Bureau has developed several Policy Development Guides as a resource for members looking for background information on higher profile agriculture issues to help them make informed recommendations as part of Farm Bureau’s policy development process.

Download or view the Policy Development Guides online.

Resolutions are due to Whittney by November 4.
Please email to whittneyk@nefb.org; mail to NEFB, Attn: Whittney, PO Box 80299, Lincoln, NE 68501 or fax to (402) 421-4427.

Policy Forum will be held November 17 at the Kearney Holiday Inn.

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