Iowa’s chapter of the Farm Bureau is one of more than a dozen that have signed on to fight a lawsuit seeking to block farmers from using the weed-killer atrazine. The Natural Resources Defense Council has sued to make the federal E-P-A review the use of atrazine, which has been found in major waterways including the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Rick Robinson, environmental specialist for the Iowa Farm Bureau, says it’s a valuable tool. It’s a crop-protection compound, used to control broadleaf weeds in corn, sod, Christmas trees and other products. Robinson says while herbicides aren’t absolutely necessary, alternatives like tilling fields more will use more fuel and contribute to runoff and erosion.He says atrazine’s good for no-till farming since it’ll wash down through field debris and kill weeds, which can cost farmers a lot. Robinson says it’s a matter of how atrazine is used. He says farmers have learned it can be used in lower amounts. Robinson says not long ago farmers were applying three pounds of atrazine per acre, and now use as little as one pound. And while there are concerns for its longterm effect on the health of people and wildlife, Robinson says farmers care as much about that as anyone else does. He says he attended a water-quality meeting last night in Chariton where farmers, water-quality directors and others talked about their concerns, and says farmers have done a lot to improve farming practices. The lawsuit was filed a few weeks ago.
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