Fourth Quarter 2022 Regulatory Comment Review
With the close of 2022 Arizona Farm Bureau (AZFB) submitted a total of 40 comment letters responding to various state and federal issues, a slight increase over the number of comment letters submitted in 2021. As in the third quarter, will see several comment letters responding to state-level issues. Below is a summary of the regulatory dockets AZFB responded to during the fourth quarter of 2022.
Environmental Protection Agency – Proposed Revisions to the Atrazine Interim Registration Review Decision Memorandum – AZFB’s comments highlighted the continued importance of atrazine as a herbicide option for certain Arizona crops. Our comments noted our concerns with the EPA’s Concentration Equivalent Level of Concern (CE-LOC) which resulted in the EPA proposing new label restrictions, maximum application rates, and “pick list” conservation practice requirements for certain areas where the CE-LOC is above a specified concentration level.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration – Arizona State Plan for Occupational Safety and Health Proposed Reconsideration and Revocation – AZFB comments addressed our support for the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s continued administration of Arizona’s State Plan. We urged OSHA to work cooperatively with Arizona in their administration of the State Plan and to cease any further consideration or action to revoke the Arizona State Plan
Environmental Protection Agency – Dicamba Revised Human Health and Draft Ecological Risk Assessment – AZBF’s comments highlighted the importance of dicamba as a herbicide for a number of Arizona crops. Our comments highlighted the careful management of the product and that no reported incidents of off-site exposure occurred in Arizona in 2021 after new control measures were implemented in 2020.
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality – Proposed Surface Water Protection Rule – AZFB’s comments urged ADEQ to limit the protected waters list to those waters for which ADEQ has clear evidence demonstrating they meet criteria consistent with the 2008 Rapanos guidance. Additionally, our comments requested that ADEQ provide an explanation as to their process for removing and requesting removal of waters ultimately included on the list of protected non-WOTUS waters.
Farm Service Agency – Farm Labor Stabilization and Protection H-2A Pilot Program – AZFB’s comments incorporated the oral comments that AZFB President Stefanie Smallhouse provided during an FSA public meeting regarding the pilot program. President Smallhouse’s comments highlighted the need for skilled labor in agriculture and the shortcomings of the current H-2A program. She urged FSA to consider modifying the pilot program to incorporate allowances for year-round employment, compliance incentives for housing and transportation, and to reevaluate AWER requirements.
Environmental Protection Agency – Designation of Perfluocroctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOS) as CERCLA Hazardous Substances – AZFB’s comments supported those prepared by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). Our comments noted that PFOA and PFOS are not chemicals used on farms, but may passively make their way onto farms. Consequently, classifying PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA could result in significant negative impacts to farmers and ranchers. We urged EPA to not move forward with their rulemaking until the agency fully assesses the implications to the agricultural community.
U. S. Department of Agriculture – National Organic Program; Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards – AZFB’s comments supported those prepared by AFBF. Our comments explained our opposition to the proposed rule as many of the proposed changes were arbitrary to accepted poultry and livestock care methods. The current proposed rule would create a cumbersome regulatory structure with a greater focus on animal welfare rather than the production of organic poultry and livestock.
Arizona Department of Water Resources – Hualapai INA Designation – AZFB submitted a second comment letter to ADEQ urging the Department to not designate an irrigation non-expansion area (INA) in the Hualapai Basin. Our comment letter noted the Department’s use of flawed data in their INA evaluation and that their data does justify the creation of an INA. Additionally, the comment letter highlighted agriculture’s efficient use of water in the area and the economic importance of the industry to Mohave County.
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality – Proposed Revisions to Arizona’s Forest and Range Fire Management Regulatory Rules – AZFB’s comments shared our concern that ADEQ’s repeal of certain rules would leave the Agency with little information regarding the use of wildfires for the management of natural resources except what may be gathered under other areas of the rule in addressing wildfire. As a result, the proposed rulemaking would create a disparity of expectations and reporting between managed wildfire and prescribed burning. President Stefanie Smallhouse also provided oral comments during a public meeting held by ADEQ for this rulemaking.
Environmental Protection Agency – Proposed Revisions to the Proposed Interim Decision for Methomyl– AZFB’s comments highlighted the continued importance of methomyl as an insecticide option for certain Arizona crops. Geographic-specific mitigation measures did not impact Arizona producers and other proposed mitigation measures impacting all agricultural uses were found to be feasible for Arizona growers. Our comments urged EPA not to impose further mitigation measures which would inhibit continued use.
For more information about a specific comment letter, contact Ana Kennedy Otto at email@example.com.