Going Green v. Going Green: The Atrazine Debate

Oct 21, 2022

The EPA has put atrazine on the chopping block (well… at least on the trimming table).

And many folks aren’t happy.

Refresher: Back in 2020, the EPA determined that an “aquatic level of concern” for the herbicide was 15 parts per billion (ppb).

But in June, the EPA changed its tune—proposing a mere 3.4 ppb threshold.

Atrazine is a common herbicide used widely in the production of corn, grain sorghum, sugar cane, and other crops.

And even though it’s been used for over 50 years, herbicide tolerance among weed species is very rare. Score.

So… what’s the issue? The EPA states that the 2020 decision “was not adequately supported by science.”

If enacted, farmers in watersheds with atrazine levels above the max level would be required to implement one or more of a “picklist” of mitigation practices, including limiting preemergence application, implementing contour farming, etc.

And to say there’s been some concern is… ahem… a bit of an understatement.

In a public comment period that ended earlier this month, over 16K farmers and organizations under the direction of the Triazine Network coalition submitted requests urging the EPA not to change the rule.

Along with expected decreases in yields and significant cost increases for farmers, the coalition members also cited environmental concerns—stating that atrazine limitations would result in the abandonment of conservation-friendly no-till practices.

Where this goes: The proposal will now be reviewed by a Scientific Advisory Panel, and you can bet that farmers and the ag industry will continue the noble crusade.