USDA economist says EPA assessment of seed treatments burdens farmers unnecessarily

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Acting Chief Economist Robert Johansson said in a letter last month to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Division Director of Pesticide Re-evaluation Richard Keigwin that the USDA disagrees with the agency’s assessment, titled "Benefits of Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments to Soybean Production.”

Johansson said an unnecessary burden was placed on farmers by the EPA’s October 2014 “incomplete risk assessment,” which forced growers to defend their pest management decisions.

Johansson said that USDA staff specifically asked the EPA to complete the full risk assessment that would more robustly describe the benefits of neonicotinoid seed treatment for all crops.

“Instead, EPA released the report regarding soybean seed treatment without additional consideration of other crops or to USDA cautions about releasing a premature assessment of the costs and benefits of such seed treatments,” Johansson said.

Johansson said the EPA's report indicates that most neonicotinoid seed treatments were prophylactic in nature and that there are available alternative foliar insecticide treatments that would be as effective at similar cost to neonicotinoid seed treatments.

He said growers should select the best tools available to manage pests, including seed treatments and pest management techniques.

“Each knows best what works for his or her individual situation,“ Johansson said.

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U.S. Department of Agriculture 1400 Independence Avenue Southwest Washington, DC 20250

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC 20460

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