EPA funds initiative for FQPA projects

Dr. Catherine Daniels, Pesticide Information Specialist, WSU

Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in the fall of 1997 made $800,000 in regional initiative competitive grant funds available to its regional offices for projects geared toward implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA). Regions 4, 5, 9, and 10 each received $200,000 and a new full-time position to perform FQPA-related activities. Goals for these initiatives include initiation or continuation of ongoing geographically and community-based partnerships in farming areas containing the greatest concentration of minor crops, and development and promotion of alternative pest management strategies for pesticides likely to be lost because of FQPA risk reduction requirements.

Region 10 (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington)

Region 10 representatives in a written statement said they will use these resources to work more closely with the farming community, as well as gain better understanding of farmers' concerns over pesticides and other agricultural or environmental issues. To accomplish this, EPA will place an agricultural professional in eastern Washington to help producers find solutions to pest management challenges that may result from pesticides lost to the FQPA's more stringent risk standards.

According to Karl Arne, pesticides expert in EPA's office of Ecosystems and Communities, focusing efforts in the agricultural community means better service delivery.

"Trying to address air and water quality concerns, or pesticide problems on a program-by-program basis just doesn't make sense," said Arne. "EPA needs to face these issues in a concerted manner. We're using a system-wide approach in many areas, and it's working. In the Columbia Plateau Agricultural Initiative, for example, we're working closely with Benton, Franklin, Grant, Adams, and Lincoln counties to address issues ranging from air quality to groundwater management. And it's bringing real results."

The new staffer hired by EPA will serve as an intermediary or liaison between the Agency and the farming community, "cross-pollinating" ideas, and concerns. The new hire will also be involved in some field demonstration projects, oversee funding to selected projects, and work with the existing agricultural research and extension. Project areas currently under consideration include: new or "next-generation" pesticides or new uses of older pesticides, integrated pest management, precision application of pesticides, how cultural practices reduce pest pressure, augmentation and conservation of natural enemies, mechanical control of pests, alternative cropping systems that reduce pest pressure, and biological controls.

The position announcement is under review and the job announcement is expected to be released by April, with a summer hire date. The position will be advertised through normal EPA channels. Persons interested in applying for the position should contact Karl Arne by E-mail at: arne.karl@epamail.epa.gov or by telephone @ 206-553-2576.

Region 9 (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands
subject to U.S. law, & about 140 tribal nations)

Alisa Green, Pesticides and Toxics Program, said in a telephone interview that Region 9 has already been working on addressing alternatives to FQPA pesticides through regional partnerships with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program. Green said no one knows at this point which active ingredients will be lost under EPA implementation of FQPA, so it is wise to work on providing alternatives to more than one chemical at a time. The SARE program focuses on moving growers from conventional agriculture to whole farm system approaches such as use of biological control, soil systems and cultural practices to manage pests. Region 9 will use its $200,000 to provide additional funds through the SARE competitive grant program. The request for proposals is due by May 15, 1998, and is restricted to California-based individuals and institutions. The region's new hire will work with the University of California in implementation, and assist with FQPA analysis and liaison activities between industry, state, and EPA headquarters personnel. By using a currently vacant position within the region, Region 9 officials were able to advertise the position, both within and outside of the agency, in January. They expect to fill the position in early April.

Region 4 (Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida,
Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina)

Richard Pont, program manager, Air, Pesticide, and Toxics Division, said in a telephone interview that his region will be waiting until the new position is filled before making final decisions on grant funding. The new hire will work with stakeholder groups in affected states and serve as a communication link between these groups and EPA. The new hire will be expected to research ongoing IPM strategies and alternative pest management scientific research and technology, and do whatever possible to assist the agricultural community in getting that type of research implemented on farms. Region 4 had earlier been unable to address implementation of whole farm systems, because it did not have a position devoted to this type of approach. Pont expects the new position to be advertised this spring and filled by this summer.

Region 5 (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin)

In a telephone interview, Bruce Wilkinson, environmental scientist with the Region 5 Pesticide Program Section, said Region 5 has requested that Michigan, the state with the most minor crops in the region, submit a proposal for funding FQPA activities. Wilkinson said the region's proposal is similar to that of Region 9, but it addresses needs more specific to Region 5. The new hire will be stationed in Chicago and will be involved in outreach to the agricultural community and in building coalitions. Part of the job involves appearing at grower meetings, providing FQPA updates, and acting as a communications conduit/liaison. The position description is now under review. Once the position is approved, Wilkinson expects to advertise it through the Office of Personnel Management web page and by announcements this spring to state pesticide coordinators and pesticide applicator training specialists.

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