The first public roundtable discussion for the chlorpyrifos alternatives workgroup was held at the Mosqueda Community Center in Fresno, with a stated goal of presenting the preliminary recommendations to the public. The two-hour event left some feeling discouraged by the exercise; in that, it did not provide an abundance of transparency to the process of developing a viable path forward in the absence of chlorpyrifos.
“To put it succinctly, tonight was a travesty,” said Roger Isom, President, and CEO of the California Cotton Ginners & Growers Association. “They presented nothing with regards to what the alternatives are or how they’re actually going to solve this problem. This, in my opinion, was an opportunity for them to check the box that they’ve outreached to the community.”
The meeting hosted approximately 100 attendees with representatives from the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, the California Farm Bureau Federation, the Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, as well as members of Californians for Pesticide Reform. The crowd was split into smaller groups to discuss individual thoughts and reactions about the draft recommendations, which Isom said raised more questions rather than providing any clarification. “What commodities don’t have an alternative? Why don’t they have an alternative? How do we find some alternatives? Is there a different approach, as opposed to pesticides? Is there a cultural approach? None of that discussion was held tonight.”
The Fresno event was the first of three scheduled by the chlorpyrifos alternatives workgroup as it attempts to develop a five-year plan to adapt the agricultural industry to the prohibition on chlorpyrifos products. The last roundtable is scheduled for Tuesday, January 21 in Oxnard. The questions that were posed to the individual groups included possibilities for ensuring a thriving agricultural industry while increasing the use of safer pest management tools, and where the funding support should be used. Isom cited a lack of specific information presented during the workshop as being particularly problematic for the cotton industry.
“If we have a case of sticky cotton this year, we’re done. There is no product that works,” Isom explained. “We can go out and use these other ones, but we’re going to spray three or four times. So, in the end, if you’re saying chlorpyrifos was a problem from an environmental standpoint, you’re making it worse by using other products multiple times.”