The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced two actions that it says will help the agricultural sector protect crops from pests and weeds. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA is approving the use of 10 pesticide products on hemp in time for the 2020 growing season. Nine of these products are biopesticides and one is a conventional pesticide. EPA is also issuing a proposed interim decision on atrazine—a widely used herbicide. Both actions provide regulatory certainty and clarity on how these tools can be used safely while also helping to ensure a strong and vibrant agricultural market, the agency said.
“With common-sense actions, we are protecting the health of our nation and ensuring that crops such as corn, sorghum, sugar cane and hemp can be protected against a broad spectrum of weeds and pests,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Under the Trump Administration, the EPA is committed to providing much needed certainty to farmers and ranchers across the country who rely on crop protection tools to ensure a global supply of products, while driving economic growth in agricultural communities across America.”
The first action EPA is announcing is the approval of 10 pesticide applications for use on hemp, just in time to be used during the 2020 growing season. EPA wanted to ensure the agency acted on these applications quickly to give growers certainty for next spraying season in 2020 and to make timely purchasing decisions for next year. These approvals were made possible by the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp-derived products from Schedule I status under the Controlled Substances Act.
While EPA oversees pesticide registrations for hemp under FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act), other federal agencies are working to streamline their separate regulatory implementation processes for the newly legalized crop. The 2018 Farm Bill directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a regulatory oversight program for hemp. USDA has since proposed a rule for state-level hemp growing/management plans. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also plays a role in regulating hemp products when they fall under their regulatory authority. According to the EPA, the agency is committed to working with its federal partners and helping hemp growers obtain the tools needed to support and increase commercial production.
The second action EPA said it is taking is to propose new, stronger protections to reduce exposure to atrazine — the next step in the registration review process required under FIFRA. According to the EPA, atrazine is a widely used herbicide that controls a variety of grasses and broadleaf weeds. It is well-known and trusted by growers as one of the most effective herbicides, the agency said. Atrazine is used on about 75 million acres annually and is most often applied to corn, sorghum, and sugarcane. (Note: Atrazine is not one of the ten pesticides approved for hemp.)
As part of this action, the agency is proposing a reduction to the maximum application rate for atrazine used on residential turf, and other updates to the label requirements, including mandatory spray drift control measures. EPA’s proposed decision is based on the 2016 draft ecological risk assessment and the 2018 human health draft risk assessment for atrazine. EPA is also proposing updates to the requirements for propazine and simazine, which are chemically related to atrazine. EPA will be taking comment on the atrazine, propazine and simazine Proposed Interim Decisions for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Comments can be made to the following dockets EPA-HQ-OPP-2013-0266 (atrazine), EPA-HQ-OPP-2013-0250 (propazine), and EPA-HQ-OPP-2013-0251 (simazine) once the Federal Register notice publishes online.
For more information, visit www.epa.gov.