“Buckle up your seat belt!” says Kevin Johnson of the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA). His message of caution is targeted towards agriculture retailers and farmers applying pest management tools because we may soon be in for a wild ride when we find changes to many pesticide labels. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is beginning to implement requirements mandated by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Dr. Aaron Hager, University of Illinois Crop Sciences, is alerting farmers, applicators, researchers, and agronomists to become more familiar with the ESA and how the EPA proposes to meet the agency’s requirements when registering or re-registering pesticides.

Dr. Lee Van Wychen is the Executive Director of Science Policy for the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA). He recently authored a news release in which the WSSA encourages growers to act now to understand the impact of EPA’s ESA compliance initiatives. A portion of Dr. Van Wychen’s letter can be read here: https://wssa.net/. Lee says that the EPA is developing an updated Endangered Species Act (ESA) Workplan that addresses how the agency can protect nearly 1,700 threatened and endangered species and their critical habitats while governing the registration, distribution, sale, and use of pesticides.

WSSA and its affiliates alert growers and land managers to educate themselves immediately on the EPA’s Workplan and the changes they likely will need to make to assure compliance. To comply with the ESA, the EPA will evaluate the potential effects of pesticides on federally threatened or endangered species and their critical habitats and then recommend mitigation strategies developed in partnership with other federal agencies.  Examples include requirements for vegetative filter strips, field borders and grassed waterways, terracing, contour farming, cover cropping, mulching, the adoption of no tillage or reduced tillage strategies, and the safe disposal of excess seed that has been treated with pesticides. Once finalized, such protections will become part of the formal registration review process for various geographic regions and for various groups of herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. Don’t delay, get up to speed on this issue before it’s too late.

References – Dr. Aaron Hager, Dr. Lee Wychen, Illinois farmdoc

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About the Author: Stephanie Porter

As Outreach Agronomist for the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), Stephanie supports research efforts and helps communicate both in-field and edge-of-field research and validation studies to Illinois 43,000 soybean farmers. She also helps lead the demonstration and adoption of conservation agriculture practices and raises awareness of best management and continuous improvement practices for conservation agriculture in Illinois. Stephanie has 23 years of experience that consists of agronomy, conservation, horticulture, plant diagnostics, and education. She has her bachelor’s in crop science and master’s in plant pathology from the University of Illinois. Stephanie is a Certified Crop Advisor and was named the 2018 Illinois Certified Crop Adviser Master Soybean Advisor. She also has experience with corn and soybean pathology research, crop scouting, soil testing, as well as crop consulting. Previously, she utilized her diagnostic training and collaborated with University of Illinois departmental Extension Specialists to diagnose plant health problems and prepare written responses describing the diagnosis and management recommendations as the University of Illinois Plant Clinic.

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