Goehring Calls on EPA to Waive Banned Pesticide Guidelines; options for chemical disposal unclear | Agricultural news


North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring told federal regulators the state does not have the capacity to accept chlorpyrifos, a widely used pesticide that the Biden administration banned on food crops and which became illegal this month.

Goehring called on the Environmental Protection Agency — and also the North Dakota State University extension — to stop guiding farmers and distributors toward a pesticide elimination program of State.

The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality also does not have funding for a removal effort, according to director Dave Glatt.

That leaves few options for people in the state who still have the chemical on hand, though how much actually remains in the state is unclear.

The issue is for the EPA to clear up, according to Goehring.

“They did this not just with our state, but across the country,” he said, adding that “our hands are tied.”

EPA officials did not comment directly to the Tribune on whether the agency would stop directing farmers and distributors to the state’s Project Safe Send pesticide disposal program. The agency, in a statement, however, said it was willing to work with states.

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“The EPA understands the challenges state agencies may encounter and recognizes that each has unique laws and operates its own pesticide phase-out programs specifically for these groups of pesticide users,” the statement said. “EPA is committed to continuing the dialogue about all the ways the agency can support state agencies and better coordinate the provision of guidance to users.”

Ban background

Studies have linked the pesticide to potential brain damage in children and fetuses, and the chemical has long been targeted by environmentalists, according to the Associated Press. The European Union and Canada have restricted its use.

The EPA had initiated a ban under the Obama administration, but the agency reversed that decision shortly after Donald Trump became president in 2017. President Joe Biden, after taking office last year, s is committed to reviewing more than 100 of its predecessor’s environmental regulatory measures.

The EPA acted again after a federal appeals court ordered the government in April 2021 to quickly determine whether the pesticide is safe or should be banned. Federal regulators announced last August that its use in food production would be banned beginning Feb. 28.

“The agency’s assessment indicated that currently registered uses of chlorpyrifos result in exposures that exceed safe exposure levels, and therefore may result in adverse effects,” the agency says on its website. “The final rule revokes tolerances and will reduce risk to our most vulnerable populations, including children, by reducing exposure to chlorpyrifos through food and drinking water.”

Goehring sees the move as “advocacy from the bench” and an attack on domestic agricultural production that could send raw material buyers to other countries like China.

“None of this has been well thought out; it compromises the food security of our country,” the commissioner told the Tribune.

From a regulatory standpoint, giving farmers and distributors only six months to dispose of their product — after the end of the growing season — was “unreasonable and irresponsible,” Goehring said. U.S. state and territory officials on a recent conference call with EPA officials told the agency as much, he said.

Send the project securely

EPA issued advice on its website directing people who have stockpiles of pesticides to state chemical disposal programs.

Goehring in a letter Late last month, EPA Office of Pesticide Programs Director Ed Messina said North Dakota’s Safe Send project had neither the resources nor the funding to tackle chlorpyrifos. He asked the EPA to “immediately cease” its guidelines.

The NDSU Extension has released advice. University pesticide expert Andrew Thostenson said the recommendation would be changed now that it is clear Project Safe Send will not accept chlorpyrifos.

Send the project securely gives farmers, ranchers, pesticide managers, government agencies and homeowners a way to get rid of unusable herbicides, insecticides, rodenticides and fungicides for free. Collections are held annually in the summer, with pesticides being shipped out of state for incineration. The program has collected approximately 5.8 million pounds of chemicals over the past three decades.

It is funded by fees pesticide manufacturers pay to register their products in North Dakota. The legislature typically approves about $1.8 million for the program each two-year budget cycle, according to Goehring.

That’s enough to handle current collections, but not an influx of chlorpyrifos, he said.

Even if the federal government were to provide subsidies, out-of-state incinerators are at capacity, according to Goehring.

“What are we going to do if a group of people bring us a group of products that we can’t get rid of? ” he said.

In its statement, the EPA said it “suggests farmers and commercial users of pesticides consider various options, including storing chlorpyrifos products until there is a possibility of proper disposal of such products or as directed by their state”.

“If other options become available (for example, disposal or product returns), the agency will provide updates on the chlorpyrifos website and to state agencies,” the EPA said. “The agency invites state agencies to ask questions and provide feedback, and will also contact state agencies if feasible alternative options for chlorpyrifos phase-out coordination are identified.”

The site is at https://bit.ly/3Khsyjd.

Uncertain amounts

The amount of chlorpyrifos remaining in North Dakota is unknown.

The pesticide has been registered for use on a wide variety of crops grown in the state, including wheat. In recent years, it has been used primarily to control pests in sugar beet, soybean and sunflower fields, according to Thostenson.

“I’m trying to understand the magnitude of the materials we have there,” he said.

Corteva, the main supplier of the product, withdrew from the market more than a year ago, citing a drop in sales, and given the uncertainty about the future of the pesticide “I can’t imagine that farmers and even distributors would try to keep large quantities,” Thostenson said.

He also said he’s spoken to several applicators over the past few weeks and “I haven’t received any indication that there are large quantities out there, either in the hands of distributors or farmers’ sheds.”

But last year’s drought could be a wild card. Pest problems in sunflower and soybean crops were not severe, so “there may well be a small carryover” of chlorpyrifos, Thostenson said.

He doesn’t believe farmers will be tempted to use their inventory for crops this growing season. They could face federal fines and even jail time if caught, but the biggest deterrent is that commodity buyers won’t accept contaminated crops because it would be illegal to sell them. foods made from them.

“I think the market is going to be the executor here,” Thostenson said.

Farmers and distributors have been allowed to use existing stocks in past cases where pesticides have been banned, according to Goehring. He criticized the EPA for not allowing this with chlorpyrifos, and said stockpiling the pesticide for now was about the only option for those who had it.

“There are no options for me” as head of the state Department of Agriculture, Goehring said. “It’s a huge challenge, although we like to help out and be a resource, because that’s what we do. I don’t know what to say. We have to wait and see what the EPA will do.”



Glatt, environmental quality manager, said his agency would speak with Goehring’s to see if there was a cooperative effort that could be engineered. Another option could be to try to get the manufacturer to take back the product, he said.

“Obviously, if there’s no option for people to get rid of it, there’s a concern that it could be discarded illegally,” Glatt said, adding that the agency encourages people who have of chlorpyrifos to “keep it”.

“Safe disposal is always the right way to go,” he said. “We plan to explore options moving forward.”

Contact Blake Nicholson at 701-250-8266 or [email protected]


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