Soybean farmers expressed their disappointment with today’s announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) will conduct a full environmental impact statement (EIS) on soybean, corn and cotton crops designed to tolerate the 2,4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and Dicamba herbicides. The move could delay the introduction of new products containing these herbicide-tolerant traits to the market for an additional two to four years, according to industry sources. Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer and president of the American Soybean Association (ASA) from Canton, Miss., noted the association’s frustration with USDA’s announcement:
“ASA is extremely disappointed in USDA’s decision that will serve only to place another barrier between soybean farmers and the tools and technologies farmers need to sustainably grow more food, fiber and fuel for our nation, all while using less of its resources. Farmers rely on our federal agencies to make regulatory decisions based on sound science. There is no reason for APHIS to conduct an additional EIS on top of the already-comprehensive environmental assessment that has been completed for these products. Even in APHIS’ own press release, the agency cites the sustained, safe use of 2,4-D since the 1940s and Dicamba since 1967.
“Farmers need new technologies such as crops that have herbicide-tolerant traits to manage weeds and weed resistance, and USDA’s decision will delay the availability of these new technologies. USDA’s decision also greatly undermines its previous commitments to eliminate delays in its regulatory reviews and utilize robust environmental assessments. Requiring a full EIS unjustifiably delays the availability of safe products to farmers, increases regulatory costs, chills product innovation, and ultimately reduces the efficiency and productivity of U.S. agriculture.
“My fellow farmers and I are in a race, as is all of American agriculture. We’re in a race to produce enough food and products to satisfy the demands of a global population projected to hit 9 billion people within the next 40 years. Our technology providers have undergone decades of research and development and the world’s most rigorous testing regimen, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, to produce products that are declared safe by EPA and used safely by American farmers day after day for decades. Tools like 2,4-D and Dicamba-tolerant traits are critical to our mission as farmers, and for USDA to require an EIS without any scientific justification is troubling.”