By Tom Driscoll, government relations representative, National Farmers Union
The Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee (PPDC), a federal advisory committee composed of diverse stakeholders and tasked with providing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) feedback on various pesticide regulatory, policy and program implementation issues, met in the D.C. metro area this week.
EPA officials addressed the PPDC on several issues of interest to family farmers, especially the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and state and tribal pollinator protection plans. The National Academy of Sciences issued a report on the risk pesticides pose to endangered and threatened species in April 2013, and the federal agencies that carry out the ESA have been working to implement the recommendations in that report. EPA explained a process, currently in pilot testing, through which pesticide registration and reregistration requests are reviewed. This process requires frequent consultation between EPA and the Fish and Wildlife Service, which may prove to slow EPA’s pesticide registration process. Officials also demonstrated an improved web tool that can be used to check for endangered species-related pesticide usage restrictions by area, active ingredient and chemical using interactive maps.
EPA also offered a presentation on state and tribal managed pollinator protection plans (MP3s). In response to growing documentation of pollinator decline, EPA was instructed to engage states and tribes on the issue. Five states have implemented MP3s while another 30 states are in the process of developing plans. EPA is in the process of measuring the effectiveness of these plans, including the communications fostered among stakeholders and the effect they have on pollinator pesticide exposure. These efforts are in line with NFU policy, which calls for “collaboration between the pesticide manufacturing and pollinator industries” in finding effective methods for protecting pollinators. EPA’s evaluation of the MP3s will inform the agency’s consideration of including protections for pollinators under contracted services on legally-binding pesticide labels in the future.