Texas Farm Bureau: Recipe for DisasterBy Mike Barnett

Take one scoop of endangered species, two pinches of pesticide and two cups of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mix well and you have a recipe for disaster for Texas agriculture and America’s farmers and ranchers.

Two environmental groups are cooking up a bitter cake for farmers and ranchers as they have sued EPA in a challenge to the agency’s agricultural pesticide regulatory program.

According to the suit, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Pesticide Action Network North America, EPA did not consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Services regarding the effects of EPA-registered pesticides on endangered species. The groups claim EPA is violating the Endangered Species Act and are asking EPA to retroactively consult FWS and re-write current regulations, after putting restrictions on ag chemicals.

Most suits filed by environmental groups are targeted at one particular species in a given region. What makes this suit different—and much more dangerous—is its broad scope.

Virtually every agricultural chemical in use today is listed in that suit—which seeks protection for 214 endangered species throughout the U.S. The groups claim some 18 endangered species are threatened by pesticides in Texas alone including the Louisiana black bear, Black-capped vireo, Piping plover,  the Texas blind salamander, Peck’s Cave amphipod, the American burying beetle and others.

Bottom line: The suit, if successful, has the potential to broadly limit pesticide use and change production practices of every farmer and rancher in Texas and the United States.

Kansas Corn Growers Executive Director Jere White offered his thoughts during a DTN/Progressive Farmer interview: “If you look at the scope of the lawsuit, it is different in that it is not targeted–just when you look at the geographical distribution and the number of products involved. This is more of an assault on modern agriculture than it is about protection of endangered species.”

Think Mr. White is wrong? Read this quote from Dr. Heather Pilatic, co-director of one of the environmental groups bringing the lawsuit: “This suit thus represents a real opportunity for American agriculture: By enforcing the law and counting the real cost of pesticide use, we strengthen the case for supporting a transition toward more sustainable pest-control practices like crop rotations and beneficial insect release.”

Duh, Dr. Pilatic—as if agriculture hasn’t thought of those practices.

If these environmental groups get this cake baked, you can put Texas farmers and ranchers and American agriculture right on that endangered list with the Robber Baron Cave meshweaver and Pecos assiminea. Maybe then we can get some protection.

Visit the Texas Farm Bureau website at www.txfb.org .
Follow Texas Farm Bureau on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates on this topic and many more.

Mike Barnett

Director of Publications
Texas Farm Bureau
I’m a firm believer that farmers and ranchers will continue to meet the needs of a growing world population by employing equal measures of common sense, conservation and technology.
Follow Mike on Twitter and Facebook.

One Response to “Pesticides + endangered species + EPA is recipe for disaster”

  1. We experience similar issues in Europe – the press certainly adds to the problem by focusing attention on pesticides and failing to consider the numerous other suspects. Bees is a constant ‘hot topic’, see http://pesticideinformation.eu/2011/01/21/buzz-off/

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