SAF, along with other agricultural groups, has given its support to an effort by Sen. Bob Menedez (D-NJ) who is pressing for increased funding for the Minor Crop Pest Management Program Interregional Research Project #4 (IR-4).
Currently funded at $11.9 million annually, Sen. Menendez and several other senators are requesting an increase in funding to $19 million for fiscal year 2019.
The IR-4 program was established by Congress in 1963 to assist domestic growers of ornamentals and other specialty crops in providing information needed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to register safe and effective chemicals and technology to protect these high-value crops from economic damage caused by insects, diseases and weeds.
Most crop protection products are regulated by the EPA as either conventional pesticides or biopesticides, and the cost to register a new product is very expensive. Due to the limited acreage of specialty crops, including floral and nursery, relative to major food crops, the crop protection industry cannot justify costs associated with the research, development, registration, production and marketing of crop protection products for specialty crops. The IR-4 program provides the assistance needed to ensure that new and more effective crop protection products are developed and made available to specialty crop producers.