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Pesticide dilemma facing Illinois farmers and EPA’s endangered species restrictions

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(The Center Square) – As restrictions on pesticide use ramp up, Illinois farmers face challenges of navigating the law while still producing a healthy crop.

Last year, proposed regulations threatened to remove the practical use of many of the most effective herbicides commonly used in commercial agriculture, which farm officials said would be disastrous for farmers.

As the U.S. Environment Protection Agency implements pesticide label restrictions to protect endangered species, farming officials say the restrictions are already limiting the practical use of pesticides. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, the EPA must consider the potential impact any given pesticide may have on endangered or threatened species within the state where the chemical is registered for use.

During an Illinois Soybean Growers webinar, Stanley Culpepper, a professor in the Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said it is important for farmers to do their homework before applying pesticides and herbicides.

“Remember, the pesticide that you are applying on the field, does it or does it not potentially harm the species,” said Culpepper. “You have to understand where both of those are at and if they overlap.”

Culpepper said farmers he comes across want to know why they should endanger the sustainability of their farm.

“The very simplified answer is lawsuits,” said Culpepper. “When our pesticides are taken to the court system, we’re simply losing because we’re not following the requirements of the endangered species act when registering and re-registering those pesticides.”

Culpepper believes the restrictions will expand and impact every U.S. farmer and their ability to manage pests effectively. He adds that it is essential that Illinois farmers work with the EPA and other related agencies to find common ground.

Illinois was the number one soybean producer in the U.S. last year and the number two corn producer behind only Iowa.

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