For more than 50 years, Atrazine has been a mainstay of corn and sorghum farmers for its proven control of a broad range of weeds. That is why the Nebraska’s Corn and Sorghum Associations are strongly encouraging Nebraska farmers to contact the EPA and express their disapproval of their ecological risk assessment for atrazine. If the recommendations included within the assessment stand, it would effectively render this important tool useless on farms and significantly increase farmers input costs. EPA is accepting public comments on the assessment through October 4, 2016.
"Atrazine is a safe and effective crop management tool that farmers cannot lose access to," said Larry Mussack, farmer from Decatur, Nebraska and president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. "Farming without atrazine could cost farmers up to $59 additional dollars per acre. In a time when net farm incomes are already at a sharp decline, this is a staggering cost most Nebraska farmers cannot afford.”
In a joint statement, Nebraska Corn and Sorghum leaders expressed great disappointment and concern regarding the EPA’s recently released ecological risk assessment on the herbicide. “In spite of more than 7,000 scientific studies proving atrazine’s safety, the EPA chose to ignore sound science and is proposing to drastically reduce the use of one of the most reliable herbicides available,” added Mussack.
The EPA based their ecological risk assessment for atrazine on studies their own Science Advisory Panel deemed ‘flawed’ just 4 years ago. Through the use of these highly questionable studies, the EPA arrived at an aquatic level of concern for Atrazine of 3.4 parts per billion, a two-thirds reduction from the current level of 10. Scientific evidence points to a safe aquatic life level of concern at 25 parts per billion or greater. If the proposed level of concern becomes the standard, effective use of the herbicide would be unachievable and would ultimately represent a de facto ban on the use of atrazine.
"The facts are simple—we need Atrazine,” added Lynn Belitz, farmer from Fullerton, Nebraska and president of the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Producers Association. “Taking away atrazine will drastically set back our conservation and no-till practices as well as eliminate safe, long lasting weed control. That is why it is absolutely imperative that farmers get engaged during this comment period.”
Farmers can take action on this issue and submit a comment to the EPA by visiting the website: FightEPA.org. The website will directly link you to a comment submission form with suggested verbiage. Additionally, farmers will be able to directly submit comments to the EPA and learn more about this issue from Nebraska Corn and Sorghum Associations leaders in the commodities building during Husker Harvest Days.