The National Cotton Council continues to weigh in on proposed rules that could limit cotton producers’ access to valuable plant protection products as well as undermine their ability to effectively use those that are available.
Is stricter pesticide use compliance imminent?
Under EPA’s pesticide assessment process, pesticide registrations must be reviewed every 15 years. Now, as part of EPA’s new Endangered Species Act compliance plan, some products currently registered may not be approved or may have labels with certain mitigation practices. To continue using those approved products, producers must pick one or more of these practices, ranging from installing vegetative filter strips and field borders to constructing runoff retention ponds and water/sediment control basins. Other probable label changes could involve restrictions associated with wind speed during application, types of nozzles, ground equipment/aerial application restriction, buffers and language regarding pollinators.
The NCC is urging its producer members to: 1) read labels carefully, 2) consult EPA’s Bulletins Live! Two at https://bit.ly/3lxuAVw (which includes a link to tutorials) within six months prior to pesticide application even if not in a pesticide use limitation area, and 3) maintain pesticide application records that include a copy of the bulletin, printed or digital, to keep on file — a step that will prevent legal repercussions.
On what other pesticide issues has the NCC been active?
The NCC joined with more than 400 other organizations on a letter to the House and Senate strongly opposing the Booker Bill, which is up again for Senate consideration. That legislation, which has been brought up for the past several years, would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act in a way that would undermine pesticides’ availability.
In comments to EPA on sulfoxaflor’s registration, the NCC noted the insecticide is a “critical alternate” mode of action to manage pests such as aphids and plant bugs; defended the product’s aerial and ground applications; and challenged the agency’s stance on the insecticide’s harm to honeybees. In addition, the NCC submitted comments to EPA on draft endangered species mitigations for cyantraniliprole citing its broad spectrum of efficacy against insect pests. The NCC urged EPA to 1) simplify and standardize its language for ease of compliance in the field and 2) align its mitigation practices and definitions with those of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The NCC also is monitoring EPA’s revision to its proposed rule on pesticide Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ) requirements under the 2015 Agricultural Worker Protection Standard. The agency’s revised standard includes a new provision requiring agricultural employers to keep workers and all other individuals out of the AEZ during outdoor pesticide applications. Unfortunately, the proposed AEZ would extend beyond the farm’s boundaries creating difficulties if the farm is bordered by a road or has utility easements. The NCC plans to comment on this proposal before the May 12 deadline.