New Administration Gives Farm Organizations Hope


Ethan Matthews, National Corn Growers Association spent some time with farm broadcasters last week during the National Association of Farm Broadcasters’ Washington Watch event in Washington, DC.  He talks about how changes in the administration is anticipated to affect farmers.

“We are.  So, there’s going to be a new host of characters that we’re going to be dealing with regard to regulations at both EPA and USDA, and in the weeks that those folks have been confirmed we’ve had quite a few meetings with them talking about some of the issues that we’ve been dealing with in the past.  We’re very optimistic as to where those things are going to go over the next couple of years.”

Now, let’s talk about resistant weeds; the southeast is the poster child for resistant weeds, we’ve been dealing with resistant pigweed, mare’s tail and some others for as long as 10 years.  And you’re expecting some changes that could help producers with that resistance issue.

“One of the regulatory challenges we’ve had over the past couple of years over at the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs, and the way that they’ve been promulgating the regulations that govern pesticides.  What we’re hoping to do is make sure that products can get to market on a timely basis, so that farmers that are experiencing these issues can have new tools available to them to help them control those problems.”

So, are expecting some of these products to become available that have been tied up?

“So, there’s a couple of new AI’s (active ingredient) that we know are under review right now, there are some important products that are currently licensed that are undergoing registration review that have been tied up, so we’re hoping to get those cleared through this backlog here, so that growers know they can continue to rely on those products.

“But, we’re hoping also, that this change will signal to the registrants that they have a green light to go forward with innovation, they know there’s an administration who’s going to be receptive to the need of producers, but also to evaluate these products in a fair and balanced manner, so that they know what’s going to be expected of them when it’s time for their review.”

Do you think that some of the bigger companies have been holding back on R&D because they felt like they’d never get a label?

“Well, we know that the amount of time it takes to get these things reviewed does have an impact on a company’s decision to invest.  So, a new AI takes an average of 11 years and $286 million to bring to market.  There’s a huge amount of money and a huge investment.  I think that’s part of the reason that we’re seeing some of this consolidation is because of the amount of time and money that has to go into this.  We’re hoping that with this new administration with them being more receptive to the demands of agriculture, but also taking a more balanced approach to the review of these products, and the companies understand that it is time to bring new things to market, to make those investments so that growers have the things they need to protect their crop.”

Anything we need to add, here?

“Growers need to remain engaged, I know that people are excited about the new people in Washington, and a lot of people are looking forward to the things that are going to come out of this administration. But, continue to stay engaged with your members, both in your congressional delegations, but, also with the administration.  If there’s an issue that’s of importance to you, be sure you weigh in.”

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.