The EPA’s latest proposal to restrict pesticide use is causing alarm among soybean growers. The American Soybean Association’s Chief Economist Scott Gerlt says the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed pilot to protect endangered species well before years’-long reviews is so broad, it could put some producers out of business.
He says, “It would affect about 13 million acres of cropland, of which about five million acres are soybeans. And really, it’s not sustainable.”
Gerlt says the “Vulnerable Species Pilot Project” under a court settlement could erase profit margins by requiring mitigation in areas with ranges for 27 endangered species. One example is in runoff controls. Gerlt says, “Annualized costs, that’s about 150 dollars an acre that you’re draining. And so, that’s about the average cost of the value-added to the land for agriculture. And so, that’s the real concern is that it would put a lot of these acres out of Ag production in these affected areas.”
Buffers and filter strips could run 100 to 200 dollars more per acre. Gerlt says USDA has also weighed in with EPA.
Gerlt says, “USDA is pretty skeptical of this proposal, as well. They think that this could have a very large negative impact and that the EPA could do things that are a lot more targeted and not so negative. As one part of this proposal, if you’re in certain areas, you have to consult (the) Fish and Wildlife Service at least three months before applications. USDA is skeptical that Fish and Wildlife Service has the manpower to even do this.”
ASA says the EPA could expand its pilot beyond the 27 species first affected. The agency has until the end of next September to decide the program’s final scope.