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EPA Region 3 - Strategic Agricultural Initiative

The Strategic Agricultural Initiative (SAI) is an innovative partnership between EPA and the agricultural community.  As required by the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) of 1996, EPA is phasing out or reducing the risks from many toxic and persistent pesticides.  As those pesticides are taken off the market, farmers need assistance adopting new reduced-risk pesticides such as biological pesticides, advanced pest monitoring, pheromone mating disruption, and other Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices.

The transition to sustainable, reduced-risk practices requires that agricultural producers have access to new tools and information.  In response to this need, EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) created the SAI as a pilot in 1998.  The successful pilot was expanded to all ten EPA Regions in 2002, with one SAI Coordinator in each Region to provide technical assistance, outreach, and to implement the SAI grant program.

The program encourages bio-intensive farming practices, works with farmers to change their traditional pest management approaches, and measures the impact of those changes on human health and the environment.

Bio-intensive farming practices are economically viable, socially responsible, and minimize the impact on human health and the environment, resulting in cleaner air, water and food.

EPA funds grants to demonstrate and facilitate the adoption of pest management practices that will enable growers across the country to transition away from the use of high risk pesticides.  Through an annual Request for Proposals (RFP), EPA Region 3 solicits proposals to help implement FQPA and to support efforts by the agricultural community to “transition” away from high risk pesticides to the use of less and reduced risk pesticides, alternative methods of pest control and sustainable practices in food production.  The program supports grants for education, extension, demonstration, and field projects for FQPA transition and reduced risk practices for pest management in agriculture.

SAI partners with pesticide users, grower groups, agricultural educators, and the research community.  Information and data gathered on pest management needs and economically viable and safer alternatives are passed on to EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs.

SAI supports EPA’s Strategic Plan through collaborative activities, outreach, and grants.  Incorporating sustainability into the regulatory decision making process is consistent with EPA’s goal of protecting human health and the environment from pesticide risks.  Sustainable agriculture refers to farming practices that are environmentally sound, economically viable and socially responsible.

Strategic Agricultural Initiative’s Vision

American agricultural producers use bio-intensive farming practices that minimize the impact on human health and the environment, resulting in cleaner air and water and safer food.

The mission of EPA’s Strategic Agricultural Initiative is to support and promote agricultural and pest management practices that are economically viable and protect human health and the environment.

Approximately $1.5 million in Federal grant funding is awarded competitively each year across the nation in all ten EPA regions through SAI.  Funding levels vary between the regions based on minor crop acreage.  All projects address one or more of the following goals:

  1. Utilize demonstration, outreach, and education to increase the adoption of reduced-risk/IPM practices that provide alternatives to the use of highly toxic pesticides or pesticides impacted negatively by FQPA decisions.
  2. Encourage partnerships between producers, commodity groups, scientists, extension, local/state/federal government agencies, and other stakeholders to find regional solutions to pest management issues.
  3. Measure and document the effects of using reduced risk and IPM programs on the environment, human health, and the community.
  4. Use a whole farm systems approach that considers the impact of alternative pest control tactics to air, water, and ecosystem health.

In the field, SAI grantees are learning how to gauge their own environmental progress by using the SAI Transition Gradient.  The SAI Transition Gradient is used to score and evaluate pesticide risk-reduction projects across an easy to use continuum.  It can be used to document the baseline level of current pest management practices and as a monitoring tool to document the progress toward the adoption of reduced-risk pest control methods.

Strategic Agricultural Initiative Transition Gradient (0 – 5 Scale)

0 = No transition, growers resist any change.

1 = Growers are interested in learning about reduced-risk pest management practices.

2 = Reduced-risk pest management practices have been initiated at the grower level on a pilot basis.

3 = Growers utilize key management practices to determine pest management needs.

4 = Full implementation of reduced-risk pest management practices.

5 = Adoption of a whole systems approach.


Additional information can also be found at the following EPA Web sites:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Partnerships to Reduce Pesticide Risk Programs Project Databases

Strategic Agricultural Initiative 2008 Grant Award Notifications

U.S. EPA National Pesticides Web Site

U.S. EPA, Region 3 Pesticide Web Site

U.S. EPA, Region 3 Pesticide Grants Web Site

For further information, please contact:

John J. Butler
EPA Region 3
Land and Chemicals Division
Pesticides/Asbestos Programs & Enforcement Branch
1650 Arch Street (3WC32)
Philadelphia, Pa. 19103-2029
Phone:   215-814-2127
Email:  butler.john@epa.gov

Region 3 The Mid-Atlantic States


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