Wicker, Cochran: EPA Stalls Decision-Making, Endangers Cotton Crops
Miss. Senators Urge Agency to Move Forward in Approval of Cotton Insecticide
May 11, 2016
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss., sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy asking the agency to move swiftly on making a determination for emergency use requests of an insecticide critical to the success of cotton production in Mississippi.
An emergency use request from Mississippi for the insecticide Transform has been pending with EPA since March 10. Cotton farmers, particularly in Mississippi, will be susceptible to significant cotton crop losses unless EPA processes the request in a more timely manner.
“EPA has heard from farmers and stakeholders on this important issue, yet it continues to put off making a decision,” Wicker said. “The planting season is almost here, and our farmers need to be able to treat their crops. The agency should provide farmers with the certainty they deserve regarding this urgent request.”
“Farmers in Mississippi face economic hardship because of bureaucratic delays. The Environmental Protection Agency has already exceeded its normal schedule to approve insecticide use. It should act soon to allow our cotton farmers to carry out their growing season,” Cochran said.
The letter reads, in part: “Cotton growers in the Mid-South are getting dangerously close to when applications must be made to treat for the tarnished plant bug. Without Transform in their toolbox soon, growers of these crops are destined for significant crop losses that are otherwise avoidable. ... Time is of the essence for farmers to have access to this critical tool.”
Earlier this year, Texas farmers were confronted with a similar emergency situation in which EPA took 129 days to approve Transform for the state’s sorghum crop. These requests have typically been approved within 50 days of the initial submission in previous years. The current Mississippi request for cotton is standing at 60 days with a comment period that started on May 5.
In addition to Wicker and Cochran, the letter was signed by Senator James M. Inhofe, R-Okla.
The full text of the letter follows:
May 10, 2016
Dear Administrator McCarthy,
We write to request that your agency move forward swiftly in the decision making process for emergency use requests authorized in (Section 18) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for sulfoxaflor (Transform) for cotton. We have been told that a number of state requests for cotton are pending before EPA. We are particularly concerned about the status of the cotton Section 18 request from Mississippi, which was submitted to EPA on March 10th. Time is of the essence for farmers to have access to this critical tool.
In previous years, Transform requests have been approved in a timely fashion, which we consider to be within 50 days of the initial submission, as is indicated on EPA’s Pesticide Emergency Exemption webpage. However, as of this letter the Mississippi request for cotton stands at 60 days and requires a comment period, which just opened on May 5th. The recent Texas sorghum emergency use request for Transform provides a worrying example because it took 129 days to approve – a full 75 days after its comment period opened. We strongly encourage EPA to shorten the comment period and move forward with a decision on the cotton requests as soon as possible.
Cotton growers in the Mid-South are getting dangerously close to when applications must be made to treat for the tarnished plant bug (Lygus lineolaris). Without Transform in their toolbox soon, growers of these crops are destined for significant crop losses that are otherwise avoidable.
We appreciate your attention to this important issue and would like an update on the status of the aforementioned requests by May 17, 2016.