New Farm Bill Makes Way for Plant Biostimulants

The recently signed Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka, the farm bill) broke new ground on several fronts for growers and industry stakeholders. Among the new farm bill’s many pages is the first statutory language in any federal law about plant biostimulants.

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The farm bill describes a plant biostimulant as “a substance or microorganism that, when applied to seeds, plants, or the rhizosphere, stimulates natural processes to enhance or benefit nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress, or crop quality and yield.”

Biostimulants are reportedly playing an increasingly important role with farmers to make their crops more productive thereby increasing farm profitability.

“The inclusion of a description of a plant biostimulant is a huge development in the long-term goal of understanding and recognizing these beneficial products,” stated David Beaudreau, Executive Director of the U.S. Biostimulant Coalition (USBC), in a prepared news release. He added, “This law will support the development of new sustainable technologies for U.S. agriculture and its farmers.”

The farm bill includes language that requires the Secretary of Agriculture, EPA Administrator, states, and relevant stakeholders to provide a report to Congress that identifies any potential regulatory, non-regulatory, and legislative recommendations, including the appropriateness of any definition for plant biostimulants. According to the Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA), the intent of this report is to facilitate the development a regulatory framework for plant biostimulant products and to ensure the efficient and appropriate review, approval, uniform national labeling, and availability of these products to agricultural producers.

“This is the first description of a plant biostimulant in any U.S. legislation and it is largely consistent with the definition currently under development within the European Union,” said Keith Jones, Executive Director of the BPIA. “This is a major step forward for biostimulant manufacturers, and it is the direct result of an effort led by BPIA and the USBC on behalf of the entire biostimulants industry.”