BackgroundThe U.S. potato industry is committed to the highest environmental standards in agriculture, from the safe and effective use of pesticides to developing workable sustainability standards. Growers recognize the importance of protecting and preserving our natural resources now and for generations to come.
The National Potato Council commends the efforts of growers to incorporate sustainable management practices into their farming operations. By using the latest science, research and tools in their stewardship efforts, from the use of low horsepower irrigation pumps to reduce power usage to Integrated Pest Management (IPM), growers can adopt practices that improve the environment and reduce unnecessary costs while maintaining high levels of production.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
NPC applauds the use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques, which enable growers to improve their pest management decisions by monitoring fields for the presence of pests, establishing thresholds for treatment, and applying pesticides to targeted problem areas. NPC partners with potato growers, processors and retailers in administering the potato industry IPM Survey, which measures the use of techniques that improve pesticide management decisions over time. The survey is intended to encourage growers to strive for improved adoption of IPM techniques.
Environmental Stewardship Award
Each year, NPC honors a leader that demonstrates the industry’s commitment to conservation through its prestigious Environmental Stewardship Award . The award is a component of the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program, a partnership between NPC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to protect the environment and promote the safe and effective use of pesticides. A video of the award recipient’s sustainability practices is created through a generous sponsorship from DuPont Agricultural Products and is provided to schools, agricultural organizations and civic groups to demonstrate the potato industry’s commitment to sound environmental stewardship. Videos are available online at http://www.youtube.com/NatlPotatoCouncil.
Farm Tour for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
To educate federal regulators on the latest environmentally sound production techniques, NPC works with one potato growing state each year to coordinate a farm tour for representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. By visiting potato fields, storages, and packing facilities, EPA staff gain a better understanding of how their policy decisions impact potato production.
Developing A Working Definition of Sustainability
NPC is involved in a number of different efforts to develop a workable definition of sustainability. NPC is actively participating in the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops (SISC), the National Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (NISA), and the Field to Market project. Potatoes are the first specialty crop to be evaluated using the Field to Market tools. NPC is encouraging these groups to develop a common set of metrics that are grower-friendly, use largely available data, measure results over time, and do not set bright-line standards.
Reforming the Engangered Species Act (ESA)
NPC supports efforts to reform the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which was designed to ensure the continuation of native species and protection of their habitats. The ESA currently does not reflect the current scientific understanding of species and habitat, nor does it adequately offer land owners a meaningful or equitable role in the implementation process. NPC supports congressional efforts to ensure a balanced scientific approach to the protection of endangered and threatened species and their habitats.
Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act
Potato growers also support the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, which would eliminate redundant pesticide application permits. Since 1947, pesticide use—whether terrestrial or aquatic in nature—was exclusively subject to the provisions of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). In 2011, as a result of a court decision EPA began permitting and enforcement activities based on authority in the Clean Water Act (CWA). The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) pesticide general permits are now required for pesticide applications "to, over or near" waters of the United States. The result is enforcement and oversight according to two different standards within a single federal agency at an unnecessary cost of millions of dollars and countless hours of paperwork. NPC supports congressional action to eliminate this duplicative regulatory burden by prohibiting pesticides that are currently regulated according to FIFRA from also being regulated according to the Clean Water Act.