As the Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) began planning for 2010, there appeared to be three key issues that were of concern. The first issue is mini-bulk containers, the second one is water issues and the third is education regarding the benefits of crop protection products.
MACA hosted a mini-bulk summit in November 2009 with 80 people attending representing distributors, state associations, basic manufacturers, regulatory, and vendors. The purpose of the summit was to recognize the significance of unwanted mini-bulk tanks in the distribution channel and address issues related to the rule requirements per EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP). Possible solutions were discussed for dealing with those surplus tanks in an environmentally responsible manner. The purpose of the rule is to minimize human exposure during container handling, facilitate container disposal, and recycling, and to encourage the use of refillable containers.
Among several other panelists and speakers, the program included Nancy Fitz, U.S. EPA OPP, who reviewed the new mini-bulk container rule requirements which become effective on August 16, 2011. Fitz provided specific examples of how the new regulation will impact new containers, what will be required in recycling existing ones, and provided a timeline of compliance dates.
The summit also included presentations from Don Bradley, AgData, on the different types of containers; Marty Fitzpatrick, CropLife America Stewardship Committee, who provided a detailed industry overview; and Dave Hoyt, United Suppliers, on the industry’s responsibilities.
The summit also highlighted a variety of program recycling options. These included the Illinois Project with Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association’s (IFCA) Jean Payne and Kevin Runkle and GROWMARK’s Mary Schoettmer; the Ag Container Recycling Council with Ron Perkins; and Winfield Solutions’ John Howe, United Suppliers’ Hoyt, and Crop Production Services’ Steve Wiest on their respective companies’ plans for handling mini-bulk containers.
The summit concluded with general discussion by all participants about possible actions to address the mini-bulk container recycling issue. Among other recommendations, these included establishing a coordinated communications initiative to keep all interested parties informed, creating a special industry task force representing all stakeholders, and the consideration of a public recognition program to highlight recycling achievements.
While this may sound simple, it is not. It will take a coordinated effort by the industry. For example, IFCA conducted a recycling program in which 65 ag retail members participated and collected 2,261 obsolete mini-bulk containers. This was only a small percentage of the containers collected. So much work remains.
The second issue is water. The Midwest is known for the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes, and all of the other rivers and streams running through the region. Minnesota received a grant to establish aquatic standards for 11 chemicals using the Great Lakes Tier II methodology. The Tier II methodology was never meant to be used for analyzing pesticides and thus using the methodology could result in much more stringent requirement for these chemicals.
MACA has worked in cooperation with CropLife America and the chemical company representatives, while the Minnesota ag stakeholders worked with the state and U.S. EPA representatives to ensure that the standards are scientifically based.
Another water issue is the National Cotton Council vs. EPA. In this case, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that chemical pesticide residue is a chemical waste and biological pesticides are pollutants, both of which require permits and that the application equipment is a point source. This ruling flies in the face of the exemption pesticides applications have had under FIFRA and the Clean Water Act and would now require a NPDES permit before chemicals are applied.
Industry has been providing feedback to EPA regarding the general template that can be used by the states and the scope of the interpretation of the ruling. CropLife America filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court in November (see p. 16 for more details on this effort).
The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is being revised by U.S. and Canada and one of the key issues is how to handle “emerging chemical of concern.” President Obama has requested $475 million to assist in the restoration of the Great Lakes including non-point invasive species and contaminated sediment.
The third issue is education to promote and inform the benefits of crop protection products. This is an ongoing issue to reach out to elementary students in the Midwest region via the CropLife Ambassador Network (CAN) program. The purpose of CAN is to provide scientifically based, accurate information to the public regarding the safety and value of American agricultural food production. No longer does everyone have a connection to farming or agriculture and thus it is important that we reach out to communicate the benefits of agriculture to ensure a safe and abundant food supply.
Through the efforts of 50 industry volunteers more than 7,900 students in 140 schools were informed. In addition, numerous people have accessed the CAN Web site and downloaded the presentations for their use. The presentations include Farming & the Water Cycle, America’s Abundance, Today’s Agriculture, Careers Across the Spectrum, Farm Fueled Biofuels, and Farmers Stewards of the Land.
These are three specific issue areas that are of key concern to MACA members as they will impact the future of the crop protection industry.