Michigan Farm Bureau is encouraging members to submit comments on three Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulatory proposals related to treated seed, livestock air emissions and pesticide labeling.
Participate by texting MI3EPA to 52886 or visit https://bit.ly/TellEPA3.
“It’s critically important for farmers to weigh in on EPA proposals during the public comment periods,” said Laura Campbell, MFB senior conservation and regulatory relations specialist.
“The agency needs to know we’re watching, engaging and that our Michigan farmers and agribusiness owners will be the voice for agriculture, not activists or others who are unfamiliar with the science and technical nature surrounding their work.”
Here’s more on what each of the three EPA proposals entail:
Treated seed labeling and handling
EPA is seeking feedback on regulations governing the labeling and handling of seeds treated with pesticides, specifically if — or how — they should be changed.
Treated seed is currently exempt from EPA’s full pesticide registration and review process. Campbell said a group of activists would like to see the exemption removed.
“This would create a duplicative, expensive, and time-consuming process,” Campbell explained, saying that treated seed is exempt only because the pesticide itself has already gone through the full registration and review process to assess human and environmental safety, prior to it being approved as a seed treatment to protect plants from pests.
The agency is also questioning if label instructions are clear and easily understood, to which MFB is urging EPA to maintain current label instructions and standards that support farmers in storing, using, and disposing of treated seeds safely.
Pesticide label review process and digitization
Also on EPA’s docket is a proposal to streamline how pesticide label information is collected, structured, reviewed and published.
“We believe these changes will make registration, reviews, searching for pesticide characteristics, and understanding studies related to risks and benefits of pesticides’ use faster and easier to understand,” Campbell said.
“And while we support the concept of digitizing labels, we’re also cautioning EPA to not become over reliant on that format taking into consideration some farmers and residents are in areas with poor or limited internet coverage.”
Livestock air emission exemptions
Last, MFB is urging members to comment on EPA’s request for public comments as the agency reconsiders current air emission reporting exemptions for livestock farms.
“Farms have previously been exempted from having to report air emissions because normal emissions from farms are not emergencies, accidents, or spills,” Campbell said.
“But the agency is reconsidering this after being pressured to address potential health and environmental concerns from ammonia and hydrogen sulfide — which are dangerous in high concentrations but tend to be released in low volumes during normal farming activities.”
MFB is asking EPA to not implement additional reporting requirements.