(Iowa Soybean Association/File photo)

Herbicide registration changes could undermine product availability

December 2, 2021 | Bethany Baratta

In a letter to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Iowa Soybean Association cautioned that registration changes for herbicides could undermine the value of products systemically important to U.S. agriculture.

“Should EPA make changes to current uses at this time, that will undermine the market availability of these products,” ISA said in a letter with 89 other ag organizations. “We are greatly concerned that farmers, pest control operators, and other end-users who use these pest control products will experience significant economic harm.”

If the EPA makes registration changes that greatly undermine the value of products or impose additional use conditions, growers may have to transition tens of millions of acres to alternative seed and pesticide products to meet production needs on critically short notice, the groups said. Farmers who have already placed significant product orders expecting certain use conditions could be forced to rapidly reorder new seed and pesticide products at a significant cost. This, the group said, could lead to product shortages of alternative herbicides that are relied on by growers of other crops.

“Under currently strained supply chains, some growers may not be able to acquire essential products ahead of spring planting,” the letter says.

Chaotic supply disruptions could also have unforeseen adverse environmental impacts. The changes would diminish the ability of growers to control noxious, herbicide-resistant (HR) weeds, leading to significant yield losses and environmental harm.

“Growers know their local weed pressures and select HR varieties that require the use of herbicides with certain modes of action. If EPA makes changes that undermine the ability to control HR weeds, many growers will experience costly yield losses and likely will have to resort to intensive tillage to control weeds,” the stakeholders said. “This would harm the ability of growers to maintain important conservation practices and other best management practices, such as reduced or no tillage; or tank mixing weed control products, which help to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion, and nutrient losses to watersheds.”