Kentucky Ag News
UKAg's Barrett fills unique role as EPA liaison
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Farmers who have ever wondered how directions for use, warnings and other information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency get on herbicide labels need look no further than the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment for an explanation.
UKAg weed scientist Michael Barrett serves as the Weed Science Society of America’s liaison to the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs. Barrett is the society’s third EPA liaison and came into the role two years ago after serving as an officer in the society for several years prior.
As liaison, he has intimate access to the inner workings of the agency. As a weed scientist, he is able to use his knowledge to influence national policy concerning herbicide rules and regulations. The most common topic for which he provides expertise is the agency’s plans to reduce herbicide resistance.
“They have been wrestling with how to handle new herbicides that will come on the market in the future so the problem is not made worse,” he said.
His other duties as liaison include connecting the agency to other technical experts and committees, training new agency employees on weed science and herbicide issues and arranging for agency personnel to meet with farmers.
“These farmer meetings are really important for agency personnel as it gives them a chance to talk with individuals who are directly impacted by the agency’s rules and regulations,” Barrett said.
At UK, he’s able to share with his students the types of government jobs that may be available to them upon graduation and better explain EPA labels to students and farmers.