The federal Environmental Protection Agency has granted a special registration that will give Minnesota and South Dakota farmers a new fungicide option for controlling soybean rust. Soybean rust is a devastating crop disease that has never been found in America but has caused yield losses of up to 60 percent in Brazilian soybeans.
The move is expected to help protect the soybean crop from the disease, which experts believe will eventually move north into the United States from South America. The exemption would become effective only if and when the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed soybean rust in the United States.
The Minnesota and South Dakota departments of agriculture jointly filed the request for a regulatory exemption under the provisions of section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. EPA has approved the use of mycobutanil, formulated as the products Laredo EC and Laredo EW, on soybeans to control soybean rust. The request also asked for exemptions for six other chemicals, but EPA has not finished its reviews of those products.
"We're pleased with the EPA decision because it means farmers will be better prepared to fight soybean rust," says Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Gene Hugoson. "No one is sure when the disease will arrive in America - it could be years, months or weeks. But we can rest easier knowing we'll have options for preventing widespread crop losses."
The joint request is unusual in that the disease in question is not known to exist in the United States. However, the rust spores can be carried on the wind and recent computer models have projected the disease's arrival in the U.S. sometime in the next few years. Prior to EPA approval of the MDA request, there had been few fungicides available for American producers to use against soybean rust.
"Getting approval for this type of thing takes time," Hugoson says. "If we hadn't lined this up in advance, we might have had real problems if and when soybean rust showed up. Farmers might not have been able to do much to protect their crops."
For more information about soybean rust and what the MDA is doing to prepare for its arrival, please visit the MDA's Web site.