Crop Protection Materials – Opposed
Neonicotinoids became a crop protection material of intense interest this year. There were two bills aimed at restricting the use or requiring significant notice. The Almond Alliance joined a coalition to oppose the measures SB 1282 (Leno and Allen) and AB 1259 (Levine). After intense discussion with the authors, SB 1282 was defeated on the Senate floor and AB 1259, which passed the legislature and was signed by the Governor last fall was amended into a measure to help bees by opening up state owned lands to apiculture to assist in diversifying bee diets and grazing opportunities.
Crop Protection Materials:
Over the last year the Almond Alliance has engaged in three separate legal actions to protect crop protection materials where there have been proposals to cancel registrations or implement use requirements that make the tools virtually impossible to use. Additionally, the Almond Alliance has engaged at the state, federal and international levels to keep crop protection materials available and usable.
Joined Bayer in opposing the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to cancel flubendiamide (Belt) by representing almond growers as part of an amicus brief that was submitted to the EPA’s appeals board. The amicus brief contended that U.S. EPA’s Proposed Cancellation Approach Unlawfully Circumvents Required Statutory Process and Deprives the Growers of an Opportunity to be Heard and that U.S. EPA’s Regulatory Determination Misstates and Ignores Substantial Benefits of Flubendiamide. Almonds are the largest user of Belt in California. U.S. EPA made the decision late this summer to cancel registration of Belt and it won’t be available after the current supply runs out. After contemplating all legal options and anticipated outcomes Bayer has decided not to pursue any additional legal action.
Joined DOW Agrosciences in opposing EPA’s tolerance revocations and cancellation of Chlorpyrifos (Lorsban) by representing almond growers as part of an amicus brief that was submitted to EPA to educate the agency regarding (i) chlorpyrifos’ vital importance for almonds; (ii) the significantly negative impact of EPA’s proposed action to revoke all tolerances for chlorpyrifos; and (iii) the need for EPA to have more time to complete its scientific analysis. Leaffooted bugs and stink bugs are “critical use” pests for which there are no or very few desirable alternatives to chlorpyrifos.
Round Up (Herbicide)
The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), a division the California Environmental Protection Agency ( Cal EPA) recently published a notice of intent to list glyphosate (Round Up) under Prop 65 as a chemical “known to the state to cause cancer” based on one international study that went against the state’s own conclusion that glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a cancer hazard to humans”. Environmental Justice groups have filed a legal intervention on behalf of OEHHA; the Almond Alliance has joined Monsanto’s fight and is participating in a legal intervention on behalf of almond growers as almonds are the largest user of Round Up in California.
1,3‐D (Soil Fumigant)
Following a consumer investigative report three years
ago DPR began a risk assessment to update the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) California Management Plan for 1,3-D (a component of Telone), a critical crop protection tool for which no viable alternatives exist to combat nematodes. We advocated that DPR should continue to allow growers to use up to 180,500 lbs per township per year where necessary (this will fumigate only about 2% (540 acres) of the total acres in a township). Use of up to 180,500 lbs is supported by options available in DPR’s risk assessment so we strongly encouraged DPR to stand behind their data and not adopt extreme risk assumptions being pushed on them. DPR recently determined township caps will be set at 136,000 lbs per township which is a mixed bag for almond growers. This represents an increase from the baseline cap of 90,250 lbs that some townships had reverted to, but a cut back from current use levels of up to 180,500 lbs for most townships in the Central Valley. Even at the 180,500 level, there wasn’t enough product to meet demand in some townships. DPR also banned use of 1-3, D in December and will no longer allow “the bank” which is an accrual mechanism within a township that allowed townships to accrue pounds not used for future use. We appreciate DPR relying on newer scientific data in the risk assessment indicating that the concerns are not as great as assessed 20 years ago when the township cap system was first implemented. Although, the cap will still mean some growers will be doing without this valuable soil pest management tool.
Chlorpyrifos, Diazinon, and Malathion:
The EPA has accepted comments regarding the draft biological evaluations for key crop protection materials chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion proposed for use in the registration review process for these pesticides. Both chlorpyrifos and diazinon have traditionally played key roles in controlling the two main insects of concern in almonds: NOW and PTB. The Almond Alliance, working with the Almond Board of California, has advocated for the EPA to request more time from the Courts to allow for good science and a good public process to occur to obtain credible results.
Sulfoxaflor and Tank Mixing Ban
The EPA is completing a proposal to re-register sulfoxaflor with a primary focus on potential risk concerns for pollinators. Within the proposal is a prohibition on tank mixing sulfoxaflor with other pesticides as a requirement to protect bees, for which there is no scientific basis that there is a risk of concern. The Almond Alliance, working with the Almond Board of California, has advocated for EPA to not prohibit tank-mixing unless there is a clear danger to be mitigated.
Canada is proposing to cancel all registered uses for the fungicide active ingredient iprodione (Rovral), as well as remove all established maximum residue levels (MRLs), in order to reduce dietary risk and to align with the proposed decision to cancel all registered uses. Iprodione is a significant fungicide product that is used throughout U.S. agriculture, including on almonds grown in California; it is a crop protectant against various fungal diseases, including Alternaria, Brown rot, and Shot hole. The Almond Alliance of California, working with the Almond Board of California, requested that the Canadian MRL for iprodione on almonds be maintained at its current level to ensure the continued facilitation of trade and alignment with international standards.
The European Union is considering criteria to identify endocrine disruptors. Assessing whether compounds have the potential for disrupting endocrine-related processes in humans and other species is not easy. Several governments have struggled to come up with relevant criteria. The Almond Alliance has requested that fundamentally the same criteria be used whether it is in the US, EU, OECD, CODEX, etc. However, the current EU legislation requires that any plant protection compound with endocrine disrupting properties be disallowed for use within the EU; the legislation does not account for whether the exposure or the levels at which endocrine disruption are seen are actually of concern. The Almond Alliance supports the EU taking a risk-based approach, and has encouraged the EU to work closely with the US and other governments to ensure the EU policies on endocrine disruptors do not hinder trade.
DPR: Pesticides Near Schools Regulation
On September 30, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation released a proposed regulation that would impose extensive restrictions on almond operations within one quarter-mile of public schools and licensed child care centers.
In the proposed regulation pesticide application restrictions will apply Monday through Friday, during the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., depending on the distance from the treated area to a school site, the application equipment used, and type of pesticide applied.
During these time periods, the operator of the property and the applicator shall assure that an application is not made within the distance of the schoolsite as specified below. (a) There must be a minimum ¼ mile distance restriction for applications using a: (1) Aircraft. (2) Airblast sprayer. (3) Sprinkler chemigation equipment. (4) Dust or powder except as provided in subsection (c)(3). (5) Fumigant.
The Almond Alliance has concerns that because fumigants are included that stockpiles and other post harvest fumigation could be impacted.
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The Almond Alliance and other industry groups are encouraging our industry members to voice your concerns about this rule. Existing rules already provide many layers of protection, have been carefully developed by DPR to provide safety and have been used without incident for many years. On the other hand, the DPR proposal is extremely restrictive and would delay or prohibit pesticide applications without improving safety.
The Almond Alliance worked with the Almond Board to draft comments that were submitted December 9th.
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