At the Oklahoma Ag Expo in Norman, Associate Farm Editor, Reagan Calk, had the chance to visit with the National Cotton Council Vice President for Technical Services, Dr. Don Parker, about how cotton producers are being impacted by the regulatory challenges for pesticide registration and use.
“We are going through some new requirements on the registration process,” Parker said. “There is a lot of focus on how to comply with the Endangered Species Act. A consultation component is required for the registration of pesticide products, and there is a process that has been slow to develop on how we can then accomplish this consultation process and protect the endangered species, but still have access to these crop protection products.”
Early on, Parker said, the attempt was made to simply prohibit the use of certain pesticides in endangered species counties.
“That is not a viable option whenever you just start taking products away from producers just because they live in a (specific) county,” Parker said. “There are many other ways that we can address this.”
The agriculture community, Parker said, is becoming more engaged in finding a solution to addressing the consultation process to enhance endangered species without giving up pesticide products.
In the registration of pesticide products, Parker said without input from the agricultural community, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is left to make assumptions with the information they have.
“They are using the best information they can get, but sometimes, they don’t really have some clear understanding of the way we actually use products,” Parker said. “If we as the ag industry work more with EPA to help them understand how we actually use those products on our farm, how we apply them, what rates, and let them understand, we can help them correct a lot of these assumptions that they have.”
Parker said the best opportunity to help the EPA better understand the importance of these products to the farm is through comments.
“These are very important critical tools for our whole agricultural production system, and we must be able to stand up and let EPA understand why these products are important to us,” Parker said.
Parker also talked about the current cotton crop and what he is hearing from producers.
“This has probably been one of the strangest years I have ever seen,” Parker said. “It is just about state by state that you can find good and bad areas. Usually, you have one area that may have a little bit of a yield problem, but the majority may be doing good. This year, every state has some areas that, either due to drought or due to excessive rain, that area had a much lower crop.”
Click the LISTEN BAR below to listen to Don Parker talking about pesticide regulations and registration and this year’s cotton crop.