The American Farm Bureau Federation has told Congress that the continued shortage of methyl bromide and viable alternatives will negatively impact crop production in the U.S. and lead to higher dependence on imported food sources.

"Methyl bromide is an indispensable pest control tool used in crop production, grain storage, food processing and general pest management," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "For some agricultural users, its availability is nearly essential to providing consumers the safe and reliable food they expect."

AFBF sent a letter to lawmakers in preparation for a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing next week on the U.S. Agriculture Sector Relief Act of 2012, which supports all continued uses of methyl bromide.

Non-critical use of the chemical compound was phased out in the U.S. in early 2005. Since that time, the Environmental Protection Agency has increasingly rejected critical uses of methyl bromide. Sales of viable alternatives, such as methyl iodide, have been suspended. The EPA has also proposed withdrawing tolerances of sulfuryl fluoride, another alternative. No other compound has proven as effective.

"Farm Bureau is concerned that the industry has reached a critical point and that, in the end, American consumers will suffer greatly from agriculture's loss of methyl bromide," said Stallman. "This elimination means the United States will increasingly depend on imported food sources that are potentially less regulated, less reliable and less safe."