Ag lawmakers are pressing USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to use his department’s influence with EPA to preserve use of essential crop protection chemicals.
Washington state’s Dan Newhouse to Secretary Vilsack, at a recent House Ag Appropriations hearing; “I’m really concerned about the continued availability of crop protection tools. I’m asking you to commit to working with Congress and regulators, to truly stand by sound science.” Vilsack responded; “We make every effort to, in our relationship with EPA, to focus on sound science. That’s sort of our ‘pulse star.’”
Iowa Republican Representative Ashley Hinson added this; “Some of these crop protection tools, obviously, we’ve seen EPA restrict access to more than a dozen of those. Your Office of Pest Management is supposed to be pushing back, obviously, with producer feedback, and I know you don’t want to tell the EPA how to do their job, but I also think it bears taking a look at. Do you think that EPA is taking your input into consideration to a sufficient degree?”
Vilsack insisted the relationship with EPA chief Michael Regan is as good as he’s had with EPA, but added; “We do provide a lot of information. Sometimes our information’s taken, sometimes it’s not. But it’d be like me telling you, can you tell the Senate what to do.”
But Vilsack says once EPA makes its decision, he sees USDA’s role as trying to figure out ways to help farmers comply, including tools and technical assistance.