American farmers count on a steady supply of herbicides, fungicides and insecticides to keep pests from destroying their crops, but the government shutdown is creating a backlog of chemicals needed to produce the vital tools.
Many of the ingredients needed to produce the pesticides that American farmers rely on are imported. Normally, the chemicals arrive at U.S. ports and Environmental Protection Agency personnel inspect the shipments. But since these EPA inspectors were among those furloughed during the shutdown, millions of dollars’ worth of chemicals are now being held at U.S. ports.
Ray McAllister, of the pesticide industry trade group Crop Life America, says unless EPA inspectors get back on the job, this bottleneck could cause delays in production that would ripple through the farming industry.
“Much of the corn crop in the US is treated with fungicides and then insecticides before it’s planted,” says McAllister. “Some of those might be delayed and not available for the treatment process to begin.”
McAllister says unless the shutdown ends soon, spring planting could be delayed.