Heads Up On Endangered Species Act

When it comes to the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Endangered Species Act compliance plan, it’s not a good idea to ignore it or toss it in the trash. It has serious implications for agriculture.

According to the Weed Science Society of America, “The EPA is developing an updated Endangered Species Act Workplan that addresses how the agency can protect nearly 1,700 threatened and endangered species and their critical habitats while governing the registration, distribution, sale and use of pesticides. The WSSA and its affiliates encourage growers and land managers to educate themselves immediately on the EPA’s Workplan and the changes they likely will need to make to assure compliance.”

Gary Adams, National Cotton Council president and CEO, weighs in on the gravity of the EPA’s new plan in this month’s “Cotton’s Agenda” on page 6. The NCC is following it closely as the “proposed rules could limit cotton producers’ access to valuable plant protection products as well as undermine their ability to effectively use those that are available.”

Adams said 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.”

Also in the May issue, Cassidy Nemec, Cotton Farming associate editor, said it’s critical for everyone throughout the agricultural industry to not only be aware of the ramifications from the Endangered Species Act on their operations but also be more and more involved. In her article “The Endangered Species Act — Understanding The Ramifications On Pesticides Across the Country” on page 12, Nemec discusses the role of different governmental agencies involved and breaks down the “legalese” tied to this complex topic. 

You are also encouraged to make your voice heard by submitting comments on EPA’s website when the comment period opens. Dr. Thomas Butts, weed specialist for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, noted that “it’s an opportunity where EPA can hear directly from growers about our practices.”

The take-home message here is “read the memo.” The compliance plan is coming, so make sure you get educated and be prepared.

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