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UPDATE BRIEFING PAPER #12

Regional Pest Management Centers

The Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 (FQPA) imposes more stringent standards for pesticide use in food crop production in the United States. The FQPA, while helping to ensure a high level of food safety, imposes much uncertainty for agricultural producers, both in the short and long term. Certain pesticides which have been important components of pest management programs may no longer be available because of potential health risks. Never has there been a more critical need, nor more appropriate timing, for USDA and EPA to exhibit strong and forward-looking leadership in advancing pest management to ensure a safe, nutritious, and economical food supply for the American public.

Since crops, pests, and weather patterns differ from region to region within the United States, no single, national approach to pest management is appropriate across all the agricultural regions. Also, it is economically inefficient and not appropriate for every state within similar production regions to organize and support repetitive, and often competing, pest management program efforts. A viable solution to this dilemma is the development of regional pest management centers based on similarity of cropping patterns, pest problems and environmental conditions.

Pest Management Centers would be organized in eight different agricultural regions of the country. These centers would be located at existing land-grant universities or other appropriate facilities such that no new infrastructure would be required. Among the activities carried out by such centers would be to:

  1. develop and evaluate new agricultural pest management technologies,
  2. identify and organize pest management expertise within the regions to ensure rapid response capability for pest problems or public information needs,
  3. organize and deliver pest management educational programs for agricultural producers as well as consumers,
  4. provide science-based, regionally-specific input for public policy and regulatory issues, and
  5. manage and report on pest management research projects within the region.

One of the first activities of the Centers would be to carry out, on a regional basis, the USDA research and education plan for helping growers overcome changes from the implementation of FQPA. The USDA research and education plan has three components:

  1. The Pest Management Alternatives Program (PMAP), a program to develop replacement tactics and technologies for pesticides under consideration for cancellation or use restrictions by EPA. The focus of this program is primarily towards replacement of individual chemicals in a pest management program on a crop by crop basis;
  2. New Pest Management Strategies Contributing to Crop Productivity, a research and implementation program for several crops which face potentially severe economic constraints resulting from loss of certain pesticides through implementation of FQPA. Development of new multiple-tactic pest management strategies to help ensure economic viability and productivity of food crops will be the goal of the program; and
  3. Reducing Risk in Major Food Crop Production Systems, a new approach to risk reduction with a food and grain production system focus, integrating food safety and water quality considerations a impacted by FQPA. The program will involve the major acreage crops including corn, soybean, wheat, cotton and rice as well as the fruits and vegetables most important in the diets of infants and children. The program goal is to eliminate pesticide residues in food crops and drinking water.


USDA Research and Education Programs for FQPA Implementation

The Pest Management Alternatives Program. The Pest Management Alternatives Program (PMAP) was established by USDA in 1996 to develop replacement tactics and technologies for pesticides under consideration for regulatory action by EPA, and for which effective alternatives are not available. As FQPA is implemented, this program will more critical as a support base for pest management technologies, and additional funds will be required to maintain a pipeline of alternatives. The program is structured to fund short term (1-2 years) projects aimed at adaptive research and implementation of tactics that have shown promise in previous testing. The focus of the program is primarily replacement of individual tactics in a pest management program on a single crop basis, and not entire crop or cropping system pest management issues. For example, this program might fund an implementation program aimed at replacing an organophosphate insecticide for tomato with another chemical. Funding mechanism: competitive grants, with technical and relevancy review.

The Crops at Risk from FQPA Implementation. Proposed for funding in FY2000, Crops at Risk (CAR) is an intermediate-term (3-5 years) research and extension competitive grants program with the at-risk crop or cropping system as the focal point. Several crops and cropping systems face potentially severe economic impacts as a result of the impending loss of certain pesticides through implementation of the FQPA if 1996. In the short-term, these are mainly small-acreage fruit and vegetable crops due to the current elimination or restriction on organophosphate and carbamate insecticides. However, in the relatively near future, many more crops, including the late-acreage grain, forage and fiber crops, will be impacted as well when additional pesticide groups are addressed in the FQPA. Development of new multiple-tactic IPM strategies designed to assist in the transition period for agriculture will be the goal of the program. For example, peaches may be the focus of a program to redefine pest management systems all the way from insecticide applications made before bud break to methods of post-harvest disease management. The "Crop Profiles" being development by State-level agencies under guidance from USDA's Office of Pest Management Policy (OPMP) will be used to prioritize a list of crops potentially at risk within each state. State priorities will then be assessed at the regional level to identify crosscutting challenges and opportunities for multi-state cooperation, and will be used to set funding priorities for CAR, in consultation with OPMP. Funding mechanism: Competitive Grants, with technical relevancy review.

FQPA Risk Avoidance and Mitigation Program for Cropping Systems (RAMP). Proposed for funding in FY2000, the FQPA Risk Avoidance and Mitigation Program for Cropping Systems (RAMP) will support the development and implementation of new and innovative pest management systems designed to maintain crop productivity and profitability while meeting or exceeding environmental quality and human health standards. Global markets for food demand high quality at competitive prices. Growers are faced with meeting these market demands in the face of ever-increasing production costs coupled with decreasing or unstable commodity prices. Added to these constraints is the threat posed by implementation of the FQPA of 1996 over the next decade. Many of the pest management tools growers have depended on in the past may no longer be available in the future. The EPA has already identified the organophosphate class of chemistry as a priority for use restrictions, and the carbamates and B2 carcinogens are the next priorities. Over half of the chemical pest management tools used by growers today are contained in one of these three groups of chemistry. FQPA implementation poses an immediate threat to pest management in fruits and vegetables and stored grains. Within the next few years, all crops will face similar threats. Growers face extreme uncertainty over which pest management tools will remain in their arsenal and how to combine those with new technologies such as bioengineered crop innovations and precision agriculture. There is a critical need to devise pest management systems that consider all aspects of crop production from the planted seed to the marketed product.

RAMP provides a new approach to risk mitigation with a food production the system focus, integrating food safety and water quality considerations as impacted by FQPA. The program will involve the major acreage crops including corn, soybean, wheat, cotton and rice as well as the fruit and vegetables most important in the human diet, especially the diets of infants and children. The goal of this effort is to eliminate or minimize pesticide residues in key foods and in ground and surface water used for human consumption. Research and implementation projects will be conducted as part of the Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program to help the nation's farmers respond to the challenges they will face as FQPA is implemented over the next decade. These will be intermediate to long-term projects (3-6 years) and will evolve from in-depth discussions of research needs and priorities involving all stakeholders. Projects will be multi-state or regional in scale and typically involve multiple cropping systems with emphasis on enhanced stability and sustainability of pest management systems. A major goal of this effort will be the development of biointensive pest management programs utilizing advanced understanding of cropping system biology and ecology. For example, the western corn belt could be the focus of a project designed to evaluate crop rotational options, pest prevention and avoidance techniques, pest monitoring strategies, and new pest population suppression tactics. The aim of such a project would be to develop a new approach to managing pests with reduced pesticide residues in crops, soil, and water while improving economics and sustainability for the grower. Funding mechanism: Competitive grants, with technical review.





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updated February 25, 1999