After an extended 30-day comment period, farmers and agriculture experts have voiced strong opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) draft herbicide strategy for endangered species. The strategy released in July aims to achieve compliance with the Endangered Species Act concerning herbicides, after years of legal disputes.

Initially granted a 60-day comment period, the EPA extended it to October 22, prompting 226 ag interest groups and businesses, including major national entities like the Agricultural Retailers Association and American Farm Bureau Federation, to submit comments. These groups argue that the proposed strategy is overly complex and would burden U.S. agricultural producers with new, costly regulations.

The heart of the controversy lies in the EPA’s call for mitigation measures, assigning “efficacy points” instead of specific requirements. Farmers, however, fear the proposal is too prescriptive, making it challenging and expensive to implement conservation practices tailored to specific regions or crop types.

The American Soybean Association, representing nearly 1,500 farmers, submitted a letter urging the EPA to withdraw the strategy. Farmers expressed concerns about insufficient compliance options, potential high costs and the detrimental impact on rural communities.

Critics argue that the herbicide strategy lacks accurate information on the locations of endangered species, making it difficult to implement effective protections. American Agri-Women (AAW) President Heather Hampton-Knodle highlighted concerns about the proposed trial areas noted in the draft. AAW also called attention to the lack of science related to each individual chemistry’s impact on species, pointing out that boundaries and management requirements are “premature.”

Farmers from various states expressed concerns about the proposal’s complexity, potential cost increases and its impact on weed control. The consensus among critics is that the strategy, if implemented, could pose significant challenges for farmers and jeopardize the viability of farming operations across the U.S.

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