Farm Bureau: Farmer input a must for EPA’s monarch butterfly strategy

from Farm Bureau News

Sept. 1, 2015—A robust, transparent stakeholder process is critical throughout any EPA initiatives related to the monarch butterfly, especially if the agency seeks to promote the growth of milkweed on, adjacent to or near working agricultural lands, Farm Bureau recently told the agency in comments.

Farm Bureau said it backs EPA’s efforts to get input from a diverse group of stakeholders and identify activities that will balance weed management needs across varied landscapes with conservation of the milkweed plant, as stated in the agency’s white paper, “Risk Management Approach to Identify Options for Protecting the Monarch Butterfly.”
The organization highlighted EPA’s understanding that in crop production and other scenarios, milkweed plants are considered weeds. Building on that, the agency noted that in identifying situations in which milkweed can be preserved, the approach must not work against weed management needs.

“We wish to underscore these two critical points made by the agency,” Farm Bureau said. “For farmers, their livelihood and success are inextricably tied to the land; their ability to be successful—to produce and sell a crop that will sustain them and their families—is dependent on how well they can manage their land.”

On the whole, Farm Bureau praised the balanced approach EPA’s white paper appears to advocate. However, the organization took issue with EPA’s passing reference to a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council asking EPA to take actions to reduce the use of glyphosate because of its purported impact on milkweed and, indirectly, the monarch butterfly. EPA states that while it denied the NRDC petition, the agency’s monarch risk management is “in line with the objectives of the NRDC petition.”

The objective of NRDC’s petition, in Farm Bureau’s view, was not to protect the monarch butterfly, but to reduce the use of glyphosate, with the ultimate goal of greatly reducing or even eliminating the use of pesticides.

“EPA should not, even indirectly, indicate that its risk management approach is in line with a policy that the agency has not—and should not—endorse,” Farm Bureau said in its comments.

The agency’s indication that it envisions its monarch risk management approach to include a look at a number of herbicides also raised red flags for Farm Bureau.

“We are concerned about what could be a wide-ranging review of an unknown number of crop protection tools that are important to farmers,” Farm Bureau said. “Should EPA proceed down this path, we urge the agency to work through the stakeholder process you have mentioned to ensure that farmers and ranchers are not harmed by limitations on pesticides that are important to their operations.” – See more at:


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