California is often referred to as a “sue happy State” for good reason. At the 2015 Citrus Showcase growers will hear from Brian Leahy, Director of the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) about the onslaught of lawsuits against DPR by activists attempting to force their agenda upon agriculture by strong-arming the department via the court system.
Leahy will be speaking at the 2:30 p.m. workshop “What is DPR Thinking” at this Thursday’s Citrus Showcase at the Visalia Convention Center. He will face tough questions about the decisions made by DPR that have led to delayed registration times for newer and safer crop protection tools. Leahy will further explain the reasoning behind DPR’s restriction of the widely used material Chlorpyrifos after 40 years on the market.
“Developing regulations for the sake of development and hamstringing producers without justification is only part of this discussion,” says California Citrus Mutual (CCM) President Joel Nelsen. “DPR has continually delayed registration times for improved materials, thus limiting the diversity of crop protection tools and increasing pest resistance and pesticide use.”
DPR is currently under fire by activist groups to create regulations that address pollinator health. While noble in theory, demands to eliminate vital crop protection tools without the scientific backing to do so undercuts a delicate balance between the citrus and pollinator industries. Popular rhetoric fueled by misinformation from activists suggests that neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides used to knock down populations of the dangerous Asian citrus psyllid, are to blame for declining pollinator health, but science coupled with existing precautions suggest otherwise.
“Crop protection tools can kill bees. That fact is readily understood and that is why we have clear regulations that allow two incompatible commodities to work in close harmony. But, when the use of new materials is unnecessarily restricted, our industry is left vulnerable. That is unacceptable,” concludes Nelsen.
The decisive blows coming out of DPR in recent years begs the question of “why?” Leahy will attempt to answer that short, but loaded question in the final workshop at the 2015 Citrus Showcase.