By Pamela Smith
DTN Progressive Farmer Crops Technology Editor
DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday announced several steps that USDA is taking to address the increase of herbicide-resistant weeds. USDA Acting Communication Director Brian Mabry confirmed to DTN in a phone interview that plans are for most measures to be implemented within this fiscal year.
The announcement came on the heels of EPA's announcement of Enlist Duo, a new 2,4-D and glyphosate herbicide with a genetically engineered (GE) trait that makes crops tolerant to 2,4-D. In its decision for 2,4-D use on genetically modified corn and soybean, EPA outlined new requirements for registrants as part of a product stewardship program.
Mabry confirmed that the USDA Office of Pest Management Policy worked with EPA to address the issue of herbicide resistance through appropriate label language. Those labels will require registrants to develop a stewardship program for the herbicide, develop training and education on proper use of the product that includes diversifying weed management, investigate and report nonperformance, and develop and implement a remediation plan for suspected herbicide-resistant weeds. EPA intends to require the same stewardship plans for all new applications for product registration on genetically engineered crops with the goal being to encourage effective resistance management while maintaining needed flexibility for growers.
"Weed control in major crops is almost entirely accomplished with herbicides today," Vilsack stated in a news release. "USDA, working in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency, must continue to identify ways to encourage producers to adopt diverse tactics for weed management in addition to herbicide control. The actions we are taking today are part of this effort."
USDA announced several of the steps to help farmers manage their herbicide resistant weed problems:
-- USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer financial assistance under its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for herbicide-resistant weed control practices that utilize Integrated Pest Management plans and practices.
-- Later this year, NRCS will be soliciting proposals under the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) Program for innovative conservation systems that address herbicide resistant weeds.
-- USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will actively promote use of best management practices (BMPs) in design protocols for regulated authorized releases of genetically engineered crops and will include recommendations for BMPs with the authorization of field trials of HR crops.
-- USDA is partnering with the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) and is providing funds to develop education and outreach materials for various stakeholders on managing herbicide-resistant weeds. The secretary has directed Dr. Sheryl Kunickis, director of the USDA Office of Pest Management Policy, as the point person leading this effort with the USDA.
The release also stated that USDA recognizes that the problem of herbicide-resistant weed control will not be solved solely through the application of new herbicides. USDA has worked with the Weed Science Society of America for a number of years on identifying best management practices for farmers and on addressing impediments to adoption of those practices. USDA said it will continue to work to ensure that growers have the diverse tools they need to address the management of herbicide-resistant weeds.
Pamela Smith can be reached at Pamela.email@example.com
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