FILE - Kansas  Sorghum Field

Sorghum field in western Kansas

(The Center Square) – Kansas officials are opposing the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed regulatory changes for a popular herbicide used by farmers, warning the changes could mean increased prices.

Gov. Laura Kelly sent a letter to the EPA in Tuesday saying the agency's proposed changes to usage and labeling requirements for the herbicide atrazine "would overly burden agricultural producers and likely raise commodity prices." Atrazine is used by farmers who grow corn, sorghum and sugarcane to kill weeds. 

The EPA's proposed changes seek "additional mitigation options to reduce potential exposure and risk to aquatic plant communities from atrazine via runoff from agricultural uses in field corn, sweet corn, sorghum and sugarcane," according to a notice in the Federal Register.

Kelly noted in the letter that nearly 7,000 scientific studies back the safety of atrazine, which has been a registered herbicide for 60 years.

“I’m standing with Kansas farmers in urging the EPA to reject overly burdensome regulations that jeopardize our ag industry’s ability to feed families, provide jobs, and produce record-setting agricultural exports,” Kelly said in a written statement. “These new requirements don’t improve safety – but they could limit crop yields and drive up prices at a time when we should be doing everything we can to fight inflation.”

Kansas Agriculture Secretary Mike Beam also defended the herbicide's current use in a statement.

“Today's food producers need crop protection tools that are effective and environmentally sound,” he said. “The use of atrazine to control weeds allows the crop plant to maximize yield potential, optimizing the overall production efficiency and a decreased need for water and fertilizers. The potential adoption of a proposed level of concern far below the current level would significantly impair the effective use of atrazine on Kansas farms.”

Greg Doering of Kansas Farm Bureau told The Center Square, "We always welcome any help that we can get to preserve tools that are important for farmers to do their jobs, and that’s exactly what this is."