The USDA on Wednesday announced several steps the agency is taking to address the increase of herbicide resistant weeds in U.S. agricultural systems.
"Weed control in major crops is almost entirely accomplished with herbicides today," said Vilsack. "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."
The agency's plan to help producers tackle herbicide resistant weeds include assistance from the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and also the Weed Science Society of America.
NRCS will offer financial assistance under its Environmental Quality Incentives Program for herbicide resistant weed control practices that utilize Integrated Pest Management plans and practices, USDA said, and will also solicit proposals later this year under the Conservation Innovation Grants Program for innovative conservation systems that address herbicide resistant weeds.
APHIS plans to promote use of best management practices 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 also is partnering with the Weed Science Society of America and is providing funds to develop education and outreach materials for various stakeholders on managing herbicide–resistant weeds.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has directed Dr. Sheryl Kunickis, Director of the USDA Office of Pest Management Policy, as the point person leading this effort between WSSA and USDA.
Herbicide resistance a growing concern
The issue of herbicide resistant weeds has become one of increasing importance for agriculture. When herbicides are repeatedly used to control weeds, the weeds that survive herbicide treatment can multiply and spread, USDA said.
With EPA's Wednesday announcement on the registration of Dow AgroSciences' Enlist Duo herbicide, which will be used in conjunction with new genetically engineered crop varieties, farmers are being offered one more new tool to better manage emerging populations of herbicide-resistant weeds in corn and soybean crops.
The USDA Office of Pest Management Policy worked with EPA to address the issue of herbicide resistance through appropriate label language that 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 modified crops with the goal being to encourage effective resistance management while maintaining needed flexibility for growers.
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, the agency said.