In August, Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) board member Brian Thalmann was among the grower-leaders from across the country who testified before a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) about the importance of atrazine. His testimony came during a three-day virtual meeting during which the panel provided the EPA with feedback on its reevaluation of 11 studies that guided the agency’s 2022 decision to revise its level of concern for atrazine.
“Atrazine is a critical component of weed management for Minnesota corn farmers,” said Thalmann, a family farmer in Plato, Minnesota. “Responsible use of atrazine is combined with other chemical and nonchemical tactics to enhance crop competitiveness, minimize weed emergence and growth, and reduce the evolution of weed resistant genes.”
Thalmann was joined by growers from Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, and Michigan, as well as industry representatives from the National Corn Growers Association, National Sorghum Producers, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, and leaders of the Triazine Network, a diverse coalition of more than 40 state and national agricultural groups actively involved in atrazine regulatory actions. MCGA worked closely with the Triazine Network and industry partners to advocate for the SAP to clarify the science behind EPA’s dramatic shifts in the 2022 “Proposed Revisions to the Atrazine Interim Registration Review Decision.”
When the atrazine comment period closed last October, more than 16,000 farmers and agricultural organizations representing corn, sorghum, citrus, sugar cane, and other crops across the country united against EPA’s flawed proposed revision, calling for the agency to base decisions on credible scientific evidence. During the August SAP, speakers shared real-world implications of EPA’s actions on today’s sustainable farming practices.
“The proposed 3.4 ppb concentration equivalent is not supported by the microcosm/mesocosm weight of evidence approach, especially in light of the re-evaluation of the 11 studies in the white paper,” Thalmann said. “This also raises questions about the scientific validity of the proposed mitigation measures. Extensive monitoring data in Minnesota suggests that there are other proven alternatives to ensuring surface and groundwater is protected that should also be considered.”
EPA expects to receive the SAP’s recommendations in late November. According to an EPA official advising the SAP, the agency will consider the panel’s suggestions in recalculating the proposed revisions before moving into a court-ordered review required under the Endangered Species Act.