Industry News: June 2024

NCC Statement On Farm Bill House Legislation Released

The National Cotton Council applauds House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson for producing a Farm Bill that significantly increases the support levels for cotton producers, who have been weighed down by the recent rise in on-farm production costs.

This legislation also gives growers more affordable options for their risk management strategies, makes important improvements in the marketing loan program and restores critical support for our domestic textile manufacturers.

The NCC urges this legislation to move forward in a bi-partisan manner with our industry committed to working with the leadership of the House and Senate to ensure final passage in 2024.

Syngenta Pest Patrol Program Is Now Underway

The 2024 Syngenta Pest Patrol program is designed to equip growers with timely alerts so they can protect their crops against potential pest threats. The alerts come from a team of local university partners and Syngenta representatives across the Mid-South and East Coast.

By signing up for this free, SMS-based program, growers can receive news about emerging pest populations and issues specific to their area throughout the growing season.

We invite you to spread awareness about the Pest Patrol program and its benefits. Together we can help growers stay ahead of pest threats and empower them with the knowledge and tools they need to combat pests during the season.

The Pest Patrol program will run from March 31 – October 31, 2024. To sign up, visit https://www.syngenta-us.com/pest-patrol. Pest Patrol experts and entomologists will be posting timely alerts for growers throughout the growing season, these experts include:

Nick Bateman, Ph.D., assistant professor/crop entomologist, University of Arkansas.

Ben Thrash, Ph.D., assistant professor/entomologist, University of Arkansas.

Whitney Crow, Ph.D., entomologist, Mississippi State University.

Chase Floyd, Ph.D., Extension entomologist, University of Missouri.

Sebe Brown, Ph.D., entomologist,  University of Tennessee.

For any questions, please contact Luke Matson at 919-460-9020 or lmatson@gscommunications.com.

EPA Requests Comments On Acephate Cancellation

The Environmental Protection Agency is soliciting public comment on a registration review decision where the EPA proposes to cancel all uses of acephate, except for injections to non-food bearing trees.

Sebe Brown, University of Tennessee IPM Extension specialist, said, “Acephate is widely used in Tennessee row-crop agriculture and is a critical component of IPM programs. Cancelling an important crop protection product would place increased pressure on a limited number of control options available to producers.

“We are encouraging agricultural professionals to comment to the EPA on the impacts acephate has on your production systems. If you need assistance with comments, please contact your UT Extension specialist.”

To comment, go to https://www.regulations.gov/docket/EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0915/document. The deadline for comments is July 1, 2024.

Time Is Not On Dicamba’s Side

Brigit Rollins

Following an Arizona federal court ruling that vacated the label in February, users of dicamba herbicides are waiting to see what happens now that a new registration for over-the-top use of XtendiMax during the 2025 season has been submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Herbicides containing dicamba have been widely used by cotton and soybean growers to fight weeds that have developed resistance to other chemical controls. The EPA regulates herbicides and must approve the labels, which include directions for use and precautions.

Brigit Rollins, staff attorney, National Agricultural Law Center, says the review period for the latest dicamba registration submission could be a long one.

Three dicamba brands are registered for use by the EPA: XtendiMax, Engenia and Tavium.

The proposed new label for XtendiMax includes a significant change — not allowing for over-the-top use on soybeans,” said Rollins.

The XtendiMax submission also included a new twist: an R170 registration for food use. According to the EPA, R170 would include “uses on areas where food may be grown or raised such as pasture, rangeland, home garden, beehive and uses involving livestock, such as livestock housing, livestock dips and livestock ear tags.”

Rollins noted, “The court said the manufacturer needed to pursue a new use registration. Bayer probably saw the R170 additional food use as the best fit as a new use registration, but they might have a completely different reason.  However, the review timeline may be longer than the growing season.

“The public comment period that’s currently open on this label is for 30 days, but there is a good chance that it will be extended. Various environmental groups have indicated that they would like to push for at least a 60-day comment period.”

The current comment period opened May 2 and ends June 3. EPA also has a 15-month review just for the R170.

“With the extended comment period and EPA’s 15-month decision time for the R170 label, “that’s a review period of 17 months,” Rollins said. “It’s hard to see how this label would be approved before the 2025 growing season. The label could be approved as early as fall 2025, if we’re doing our math correctly.”

Rollins did say that the EPA could choose to modify and shorten the review period, but any follow-up lawsuits would again target the procedures “because that worked so well last time.”

The Arizona court order allows for existing stocks of XtendiMax, Tavium and Engenia to be used in 2024 and defines those stocks as being previously registered pesticide products that are currently in the United States and were packaged, labeled and released for shipment prior to Feb. 6, 2024, the date of its order. The products must be used according to the label.

Dicamba has been registered for use in the United States since 1967 and controversial for its tendency to move, or drift, from its target application area. Newer formulations using dicamba were approved by the EPA in 2016.

The 2024 Arizona decision focused on procedural issues linked to how the EPA reviewed labels for registration in 2020, rather than the herbicide itself.

At the heart of the 2016 lawsuit, and subsequent lawsuits, are the Endangered Species Act and FIFRA, or the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, which regulates pesticide use in the United States. The Endangered Species Act requires all federal agencies to ensure their actions will not jeopardize endangered or threatened species. Under the Endangered Species Act, the EPA must consult the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Marine Fisheries Service when approving pesticides.

However, the herbicides’ labels for use expired before the courts could take up the 2016 case. The herbicide makers filed for an expanded label, which was granted in 2018.

Plaintiffs refiled their lawsuit in 2018 and a 2020 decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals  stated, “that the 2018 pesticide registrations violated FIFRA because EPA had wrongly concluded that the label amendments right that this sort of registration of over-the-top use would not significantly increase the risk of unreasonable adverse effects on the environment,” Rollins said.

“Specifically, the 9th Circuit called out EPA for substantially understating three risks that EPA had identified when it analyzed the label, and also that EPA had failed to acknowledge three other risks in its analysis.”

The labels were vacated in 2020 and manufacturers sought new registrations to allow over-the-top use of the dicamba herbicides from 2021-25. This multi-year registration was the subject of the Arizona court decision this year.

In both rulings vacating the registrations, the court allowed farmers to use existing stocks. As for the future, Rollins said litigation over dicamba herbicides centered around FIFRA and the Endangered Species Act are not likely to go away anytime soon.

2023 Texas Rural Land Value Report Available To Download

Each year, the Texas Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers publishes a Rural Land Value Trends report.

Tiffany Lashmet, agricultural law specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, said this is one of the best documents available for those interested in the sales value and lease value of rural lands in Texas. “It is also the only publication of which I am aware that provides information on the value of hunting leases.”

The 2023 report was just released in April 2024. Go to https://www.txasfmra.com/rural-land-trends to view and download. This report breaks Texas into seven regions and then each region is broken into smaller sub-regions.

The report begins with an article from Dr. Charles Gilliland and Dr. Lynn Krebs looking at the Texas land market developments. They note that sales activity has decreased dramatically in the past 18 months, reaching levels not seen since 2013. The article then focuses specifically on conditions in each of the seven regions of Texas.

Next, the report offers information regarding land prices and leasing rates for various types of property from irrigated cropland to rangeland to CRP land to timberland to hunting leases.

“With the wealth of information available from the articles and data in this publication, it is well worth taking the time to review,” Lashmet said.

‘Phosphorus Lady’ Finds Home At Texas A&M University

Growing up on a dairy farm in Massachusetts, Kate Szerlag, Ph.D., was no stranger to phosphorus, a nutrient byproduct of manure that can have both positive and negative environmental impacts.

Now, the new assistant professor of soil and water chemistry in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Soil and Crop Sciences said she is known as the “crazy phosphorus lady” because the study has become her passion.

Plants and microorganisms rely on the soil for essential nutrients, such as phosphorus and sulfur, to synthesize numerous essential metabolites, including DNA, membranes, amino acids, proteins and enzymes.

“Determining the types of phosphorus in the soil helps us determine the solubility of the phosphorus as it relates to plant availability needed for nutrient uptake,” Szerlag said. “Or it could be susceptible to causing environmental damage because when phosphorus exits the field, it can cause eutrophication in water bodies. The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico – that’s from excess phosphorus and nitrogen in the water.”

Szerlag said her role in the experiments is to look at the phosphorus species. The root exudates will be applied to artificial soil and incubated for several months to form micro aggregates before being taken to the synchrotron to see what species of phosphorus and sulfur are in the soils.

She said it is important to understand the complete ecosystem of what’s happening between the plant and soil. Preliminary data shows when plants are under drought stress, they release certain nutrients into the soil.

“The team wants to know what nutrients are being released and why,” Szerlag said. “What forms of these nutrients are being released into the soil? If plants are leaking phosphorus, why and where is it going? This is a new area of research.”

Szerlag also has a unique study about the salinity effects on phosphorus speciation and release, relating to sea level. Her doctoral research showed sulfate can remove phosphorus from the soil, especially from coastal agricultural soils.

“We found sulfate releases more phosphorus from soils than other desorbing solutions,” she said. “We were among the first to note this, and that is prompting more experiments on the phosphate interaction with sulfate.”

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