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Agricultural Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith works to protect cotton, grain sorghum

Mississippi and Lincoln County farmers are about to get a break.

Cindy Hyde-Smith, Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, announced Friday that the United States Environmental Protection Agency approved the use of sulfoxaflor on grain sorghum and cotton in the state.

Cindy Hyde-Smith

Cindy Hyde-Smith

Sulfoxaflor is an insecticide that will aid in controlling the sugarcane aphid, a destructive pest that can cause damage to grain sorghum, and the tarnished plant bug, a pest that can cause damage to a cotton crop.

More than 11,000 acres of grain sorghum were harvested in Mississippi last year, providing a profit of $4 million to the state, according to the 2016 Mississippi State University agriculture, forestry and natural resources publication.

In 2016, Mississippi’s cotton production was valued at $442 million, the publication said.

With the approval of sulfoxaflor, approximately 824 cotton farms and 217 grain sorghum farms in the state will be affected.

An economic profile for Lincoln County produced in 2015 by Mississippi State University said farmers — grouped with the merchant wholesalers and non-durable goods sector — ranked fifth among the top employment sectors in Lincoln County, providing 537 jobs out of a population of 34,600 people. Those producers could be affected by the approval of the insecticide.

Sulfoxaflor is manufactured by Dow AgroSciences. Application of the insecticide may be made on the ground or in the air, as long as the producer does it in accordance with all label directions.

The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce’s Bureau of Plant Industry has received an exemption to use sulfoxaflor from the EPA. The bureau has the authority to obtain the exemption for a non-labeled use of a pesticide if significant losses of an agricultural commodity are likely, and if labeled products are not available or effective. Expiration for this specific exemption will be Oct. 31.

For additional information, contact the Bureau of Plant Industry at 662-325-3390 or toll-free at 1-888-257-1285.