May 31, 2023
National Potato Council calls for increased funding for USDA pest management agency

The National Potato Council joined dozens of other agricultural organizations in requesting increased funding for the USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy. The office coordinates with the producer and user communities to ensure the uses and benefits of pesticides are understand and considered by co-regulators.

In the letter sent to Senate and House appropriators, the industry requested $3.4 million in funding to ensure strong technical experts have access to vital pest management tools and the capacity to engage with co-regulators including the EPA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The “modest” increase in funding from fiscal year 2023 would “ensure our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and other pesticide users will have a strong technical expert representing the need for access to vital pest management tools and practices,” the letter said.

The letter stressed the need for pest management tools to allow farmers and ranchers, as well as residential, recreational and industrial users, to produce a “safe, abundant and affordable” food supply and to reduce the threat of disease. It also emphasized the role pesticides play in conservation practices including reduced tillage and cover crops.

“While the importance of these tools is clear, the science, law, and regulation surrounding pesticides is quite complex,” the letter read. “It is essential we have effective technical expertise within the U.S. government that understands these various user perspectives and can represent these positions in policy conversations. OPMP provides that expertise.”

The letter noted challenges faced by the agency, including one technical expert in areas including toxicology, weed science and entomology. If that staffer leaves the program, the letter said, the office’s ability to engage with co-regulators can be greatly affected.

Other signees included the Washington State Potato Commission, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the California Fresh Fruit Association, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and the National Pest Management Association.

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