Over its 75-year-old history, CropLife America has been known by a variety of names but its mission has never changed. From the beginning, it has been the “voice” of the crop protection industry, communicating the benefits of crop protection chemicals to policy makers and the general public. Through the good and the challenging times, CropLife America has continuously honored its commitment to boldly represent the U.S. crop protection industry and its distribution channel. That commitment, as expressed in CropLife America’s mission statement, is to “support safe and affordable food and fiber production through innovative, safe and environmentally sound crop protection technologies and to provide effective and efficient technical expertise, advocacy and issue management to advance its members ability to develop, produce and supply essential crop protection products.”
CropLife America traces its beginnings to 1933 when 14 companies formed the Agricultural Insecticide and Fungicide Association (AIFA). At that time, pesticides were regulated under the Federal Insecticide Act passed in 1910. But with the burgeoning use of synthetic pesticides in the 1940s, Congress implemented new and stronger regulation, passing the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in 1947. USDA became the registrar for pesticide products, and an extensive pesticide labeling system was created to ensure safe and correct product use.
A New Name
Two years later, AIFA changed its name to the National Agricultural ChemÂicals Association (NACA). Membership was extended to pesticide formulators and surfactant manufacturers. The association relocated to Washington, DC, to better coordinate industry input into regulatory decisions affecting pesticides.
In 1994, NACA became the American Crop Protection Association (ACPA) which became CropLife America in 2002. Through four name changes the association has never varied from its mission of advocacy of and for the crop protection industry. It is not surprising that the theme of the 75th Annual Meeting to be held Sept. 28-30 in Orlando, FL, is “Advocates for Agriculture.” The focus will be on several prominent issues and their potential impact on the crop protection industry, including the food vs. fuel debate, the global crop protection outlook, and what the upcoming presidential election means to the future of American agriculture.
Under the guidance of President and CEO Jay Vroom, critical issues, including pesticide tolerance legislation, patent restoration, data and registration requirements, and shifts in agency regulatory oversight from USDA to EnÂvironmental Protection Agency, have been successfully navigated using such avenues as public policy, communications, lobbying, and litigation, as well as scientific studies and regulatory insight. CropLife America, via its education and research affiliate CropLife Foundation, conducts a range of studies to examine and highlight the many benefits of crop protection tools. The Foundation’s most recent study has focused on the benefits of herbicides in Africa, not only as they relate to ensuring a productive agriculture but to the lives of women and children who are otherwise tasked with the back breaking labor of manual weed control.
In addition to the CropLife Foundation, RISE, CropLife America’s companion organization, engages in advocacy efforts on behalf of producers of specialty products including those designed for turf management, nurseries, landscaping, and structural pest control. CropLife America’s reach expands beyond the U.S. to a global network under CropLife International comprising national associations in 90 countries to facilitate coordination of plant science goals and objectives throughout the world.
A Busy Agenda
As production demands on agriculture increase to meet the renewable fuel, fiber, and food needs of a growing global population, both the
necessity for and focus on crop protection tools will continue to be spotlighted. Looking to 2008, six key action areas have been identified. With the upcoming election, the association has already engaged the staff of both 2008 major party presidential nominees, to share and discuss both candidates’ positions on a variety of issues affecting agriculture and the industry and to open a dialogue with the people who will be helping to shape the future of American agriculture over the next four years.
“CropLife America is proud to be the voice of our industry and an ardent advocate for crop protection,” says Vroom. “For the past 75 years our mission has been to present a unified message about these products, so vital to American agriculture. It is a privilege to represent our members as we continue to pursue that mission, and essential to reinforcing the issues and opportunities that impact American agriculture.”