Environmental groups are calling on President Donald Trump’s administration to rescind its controversial regulation requiring fertilizers that contain dia-toluene and other heavy metals to be labeled “fertile” or be labeled as a “non-essential” resource to farmers.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced last month that it will soon begin issuing regulations requiring fertilizing with these heavy metals, as well as diaxanthrene and formaldehyde, to be ditched from products intended for human consumption.
It will require fertilizers and pesticides to be free of the chemicals for two years after the end of that application, and will require farmers to test fertilizers for the heavy metals before marketing them.
The rule is meant to protect farmers from costly lawsuits if they use dia, but critics say it is unnecessary and inimical to protecting the environment.
In a statement Thursday, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the Center for Food Safety said the new rules are “incompassionate and in the best interest of the farmer and the environment.”
“Fertilizers are an essential part of the food supply and this rule is necessary to protect our farms and the public from harmful chemicals,” said the EWG’s Rachel B. Leibowitz.
“The Trump administration is trying to impose unnecessary requirements that are harmful to the farmers who are already working to reduce chemical use in their farming operations.”
“While the administration is moving forward with the proposed rule, it’s important that we stay vigilant to ensure farmers have access to effective, safe fertilizers,” said CEF’s Ben Wiesenfeld.
“While this is an important first step, it should be followed by more.”
The groups said the rule will be too costly for farmers and will likely make it more difficult for many to sell their fertilizers.
The EPA’s new regulation will also require farmers who produce more than 25,000 pounds of fertilizer per year to purchase a label for dia to identify the use of dia.
The new rule is intended to help farmers, and not the EPA, protect the environment by ensuring farmers have a safe way to dispose of their fertilizer and avoid liability if they don’t use it properly, according to the groups.
“The EPA has over the years failed to follow the law, and now it’s time for them to follow common sense and to do what’s best for farmers,” said Ewan Smith, the Executive Director of the Center For Food Safety.
“We’re concerned that the EPA is moving in a way that makes it impossible for farmers to sell fertilizers, making it impossible to get the chemicals out of farming.”
The EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The rule will take effect at the end-of-year deadline for the 2018 planting season, and it will not go into effect until 2022.
The EPA also issued a new rule this week that requires manufacturers of products intended to be consumed by humans to label all chemicals as “essential” to their products and provide them to farmers, according the groups, which said the move is a violation of farmers’ rights.
An EPA spokeswoman said the agency will review the new rule and will consider the impact of it on farmers, but it has not issued any final rule.