These organization are supporters of IR-4

 

 

Update on the funding status of the IR-4 Project and Integrated Pest Management Programs.

 

If you recall, last February, the Obama Administration in the fiscal year 2013 Budget plan eliminated funding for IR-4 Project and proposed to consolidate IR-4 Project funds with funds from various IPM programs into a new Crop Protection Program (CPP). In response to this proposal, specialty crop growers and associated industries voiced their concerns to Congress and USDA about the impact of this plan on IR-4 and urged them to remove IR-4 from this consolidation plan. Though Congress has not passed a final funding plan for agriculture for 2013, both the House of Representatives and the Senate maintained IR-4 as a separate program in their respective funding proposals. It is believed that Congress is against the President’s plan based on the many comments, letter, emails and calls they received to maintain IR-4 as a separate program and funding line [most of which came from The Friends of IR-4].

Concurrent to the activities of the Obama Administration, the American Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), a Washington, D.C., based umbrella organization representing the interests of the state land grant universities, established a committee to draft an alternative plan. APLU has taken this step because of what they say is concern that many of the publically funded pest management research programs could be “picked off” and eliminated during upcoming deficit reduction battles unless they are consolidated into a larger single budget line. Their plan proposes the establishment of a new Integrated Pest Management Program, and IR-4 is considered to be an “Essential Element” of this plan. The guiding principles of the APLU plan include protection and maintaining funding for the IR-4 Project as well as Extension IPM and the Regional Pest Management Centers. The APLU plan desires to maintain the intent and fiscal equivalency of the programs. The plan also proposes the establishment of a National IPM Coordinator and a IPM Coordinating/Administrative Council for shared leadership and decision making at a national level including decisions about IR-4 and IPM program priorities and funding.

There are certain aspects of the APLU plan that may be desirable including maintaining IR-4 as a distinct program with protected funding. There are however major concerns including the associated costs of the proposed new National IPM Coordinator position and its administrative staff. Another major concern is how IR-4 will operate and function under this plan. Because of the vagueness of the APLU plan which include; concerns on how it is to be implemented and questions regarding additional administrative costs and oversight, I cannot endorse the plan.

It is anticipated that USDA will modify their consolidation proposal and a new proposal will be issued by the President in February but at this date it is unclear if IR-4 will be included any updated USDA proposed consolidation plans. Furthermore, we expect that APLU will be working with their professional lobbying firm "Cornerstone Government Affairs" to try and push their alternative plan through Congress. With that in mind, we need to remain diligent in monitoring all activities associated with this issue, meeting with key and new members of Congress so our concerns and views on the issue remain at the forefront. Depending on several factors, the support of the broad based network of IR-4 supporters referred to as the "Friends of IR-4" may need to be solicited to stand together in a grassroots effort to urge Congress to maintain a strong and viable IR-4 Project so it can continue to effectively serve the needs of specialty crop growers in gaining new registrations of necessary pesticide registrations for our crops.

I ask you…..1) let me know if you have any information or hear anything in the future on this topic and 2) stay tuned as The Friends of IR-4 may need to reengage in support of protecting the IR-4 program we all need.

 

 

 

Why Congress should maintain and adequately fund the IR-4 Project?

There are still many pest management voids on specialty crops - For nearly 50 years, specialty crop producers have depended on the IR-4 Project to facilitate the registration of conventional chemicals and biopesticides for use in their plant protection programs. The IR-4 Project has delivered over 13,000 new uses to help growers manage pests.  However, specialty crop agriculture continues to be severely threatened by many pests including invasive pests such as the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and Spotted Wing Drosophila. 
Enhanced food safety -Over 80% of IR-4 research and supported registrations is with lower and reduced risk products that manage pests with minimum potential for adverse effects IR-4 helps to ensure that sickness from pesticide contamination in food is almost non-existent in the US and the public can confidently eat fruits and vegetables which are being promoted as key for a healthy diet.
Economic development – There is great opportunity to expand export markets for specialty crops.  However, pesticide residues can be a barrier to trade when there is limited agreement by importing countries about the amount of acceptable pesticide residue. IR-4 is working with EPA and international regulatory authorities to harmonize acceptable levels of pesticides to eliminate traded barrier. 
Public health pesticides –In conjunction with the Department of Defense, this new initiative by IR-4 facilitates registrations of new pesticide products to manage pests that transmit diseases to humans such as West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, Lyme Disease and Malaria.  This cooperative project will benefit deployed US military forces as well as the general public
Exceptional return on taxpayer investment –Recent data from Michigan State University reports that the IR-4 Project efforts contribute over $7.2 BILLION to US Gross Domestic Product.  The federal funding provides over a 200 fold return on investment.  More importantly, the federal funds for IR-4 provide supports over 100,000 jobs throughout the United States.