American agriculture is the most productive in the world, but the challenges farmers continue to face make it more and more difficult to remain globally competitive. Growers depend on innovative technology and tools to keep their farms productive and deal with ever-changing pest, weed, and disease pressures, and one of these tools is pesticides.   

To help ensure growers have access to pesticides and can confidently plan for their growing season, the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) in the Environmental Protection Agency needs adequate funding to maintain the workforce required to keep this approval and re-approval process moving. 

There are roughly 540 scientists and other experts in OPP who implement the risk-benefit-based process under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, the primary law that governs the regulation of pesticides.  

The number of experts within OPP has continued to drop over the past two decades from its high of 800 in 2003.  During this time,  the agency’s workload has gone up significantly while budgets have actually decreased.

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The workload and loss of expertise have significantly contributed to a delay in pesticide registration decisions, which keeps the newest, most innovative pesticide products stuck in limbo at EPA rather than in the hands of farmers.  Farmers deserve to have the best available technology in their toolbox, and they need an adequately funded OPP to have access to those tools.

Although we may not agree with every decision that comes out of the EPA, we do agree that the better funded OPP is, the more likely they are to meet deadlines and provide farmers with the tools they need to grow our food and protect our environment.

This lack of funding is not a new issue. In fact, this shortfall resulted in the industry stepping up and working with other agriculture, as well as non-profit, stakeholders to establish the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act, or PRIA, a fee-for-service program, in 2004, which commits the industry to partially funding OPP. 

We encourage Congress to fund OPP at a minimum of $166 million, the number required by PRIA. This is not only an investment in advancing tools for future generations, but an investment in the success of growers across the country.