Chava McKeel, GCSAA’s director, government affairs, attended the State FIFRA Issues Research and Evaluation Group (SFIREG) meeting on Dec. 3-4 at the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs facility in Arlington, Va.
SFIREG and its working committees provide a platform for the states and EPA to resolve challenges to successful implementation of pesticide programs and policies in the USA and territories. Full SFIREG consists of state representatives from the 10 EPA regions who come together biannually to meet with EPA staff. SFIREG’s activities are supported by a grant through EPA, in recognition of the strong co-regulatory relationship required by the states’ primacy role in pesticide enforcement and/or certification programs.
- SFIREG members reported on recent discussions they had regarding requests to EPA from certain companies to allow selective inert ingredient disclosure on FIFRA labels.
- State regulators expressed confusion around whether to classify biostimulants as fertilizers or pesticides and discussed concerns about their use on cannabis crops. EPA plans to release a policy document about biostimulants within the next 90 days.
- SFIREG discussed plans to conduct a survey of states to evaluate success of pollinator protection plans at a national level.
- EPA spoke about its recent re-registration of dicamba products for use on GMO crops for the 2019 season and noted additional new restrictions on product use.
- SFIREG also talked about the Federal Pesticide Applicators Certification and Training Rule. States have until March 4, 2020, to finalize their revised applicator certification plans. EPA plans to publish guidance for state lead agencies about the plan revisions by the end of January.
McKeel's participation at SFIREG is important to GCSAA's advocacy efforts as the association continues to build relationships with EPA officials and points of contact in the state pesticide programs across the United States. States and EPA work together on issues such as the rewrite of the Clean Water Rule.
While in Washington, McKeel also participated in the RISE Regulatory Affairs Committee meeting. Responsible Industry for A Sound Environment is the national trade association representing manufacturers, formulators, distributors and other industry leaders involved with specialty pesticides and fertilizers.
The committee spent time building and designing the agenda for the April 2019 RISE and CropLife America Regulatory Conference. Specifically, the committee will host an EPA Labels Live event that will allow EPA staff to learn more about the registration process used by GCSAA's industry partners. The event also allows EPA staff to learn how products are used on site such as golf courses.
EPA's SmartLabel Pilot was also discussed at the meeting. In an effort to make pesticide label information easier to find and the approval of pesticide labels more efficient, EPA is working with pesticide registrants to pilot an electronic label system. As part of the SmartLabel pilot, nine pesticide registrants will be developing and submitting pesticide labels to EPA through a fully electronic system, instead of as paper or PDF files. SmartLabel will make the label approval process more efficient by creating standardized label sections for all pesticide labels. The system will also make it easier to compare previous label versions without losing the necessary flexibility to make a label appropriate for each product.