Corn and Sorghum Herbicides and Water Quality: An Evaluation of Alternative Policy Options
The policies restricting the use of atrazine and other triazines to achieve desirable water quality standards are analyzed in a CEEPES framework. Five policies, including atrazine post restriction, restricting atrazine to meet MCL and HAL standards in runoff, a complete ban on atrazine, and also a ban on all triazines, were evaluated. The results suggest a $764 million total economic welfare loss with a triazine ban; with all other policies there was only one-third as much economic welfare loss. Although the triazine ban produced desirable water quality benefits, the economic costs are significantly higher. The overall goal of reducing water quality risk with the least economic welfare loss would not be achieved through an atrazine ban either, unless producers adopt practices that minimize risk from substitute herbicides. The runoff standards-based policy restrictions and atrazine post restriction offer best results for minimizing environmental risks with the least welfare reduction, but the current analysis assumes zero transaction costs, namely zero cost of monitoring and assessment.