Shortly before the long U.S. Independence Day weekend, the Obama administration announced that it would delay the employer-mandate portion of the new health-care law for another year.

Some pundits suggested a political motive, saying that the White House wants to suspend the unpopular requirement until after next year’s congressional elections.

Yet almost nobody pointed out that the postponement is part of a troubling pattern: This administration can’t get its regulatory house in order.

I feel the frustration every day as an American farmer. To grow crops, I’m always on the lookout for safe technologies that will help me make better use of the land, whether it’s with improved water conservation or advanced pest control. The government needs to help out; through an efficient and effective regulatory system that makes science-based decisions in a timely fashion.

Unfortunately, our regulatory system is broken. And farmers increasingly see the Department of Agriculture not as a partner committed to helping us grow food, but as an obstacle that simply gets in the way of responsible production.

Two cases in point involve new trait technologies that use time-tested herbicides: one with a technical name, 2,4-D and the other, dicamba. The herbicide 2, 4-D was first developed in the 1940s. My father started using it on our farm in the 1950s. Dicamba was introduced in the 1950s and I’ve been using that tool on our farm since 1967.Today, they are two of the best understood and most widely accepted herbicides on the planet.


Want access to the very latest in agriculture news each day? Sign up for the Western Farm Press Daily e-mail newsletter.


They’re also key ingredients in two important new crop-protection tools. Having access to 2,4-D and dicamba technologies will help farmers get the yield we need to compete while easily killing weeds that have become difficult to control.

Sensationalist accounts in the media have dubbed these “superweeds,” a silly word that makes ordinary vegetation sound like something out of “Little Shop of Horrors,” the humorous musical about plants that eat people. Whatever we label them, we need new tools to fight them—and I’ve been eager to get my hands on these new products, as are many other farmers.

But USDA won’t let us have this new technology. To make matters worse, it won’t explain why and its failure to do so violates federal law.