As previously reported by the Agricultural Retailers Association, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comments on the availability of the Reregistration Eligibility Decisions (RED) for the soil fumigant pesticides chloropicrin, dazomet, metam sodium/potassium and methyl bromide. EPA extended the comment period to Oct. 30, following a written request submitted by ARA. More than 25 members of Congress recently sent a letter to the EPA raising concerns on the impact the agency's soil fumigants proposal will have on agricultural operations, especially as it relates to chloropicrin and buffer zone requirements.

The Sept. 26 congressional letter states, "We are concerned that the buffer zones for certain crop uses and the monitoring and notification requirements in the chloropicrin RED would make it impossible for many growers to use this important tool. The required buffer zones and other limitations that the RED places on chloropicrin will have severe repercussions for agriculture in our states, including the production of fruits and vegetables for American families and seedlings for reforestation." The letter also points out that the EPA proposal, if implemented, would drastically limit the acreage planted, reduce crop yields and increase production costs. ARA also is concerned about how this proposal impacts the application of soil fumigants-potentially setting a bad precedent that could affect agricultural pesticide products.

Under the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act of 2003, the EPA must complete REDs for nonfood use pesticides by Oct. 3. The purpose of the reregistration program is to mitigate risks associated with the use of older pesticides while preserving their benefits. Pesticides that meet today's scientific and regulatory standards may be declared "eligible" for reregistration. ARA plans to weigh in on this EPA proposal.