Chava McKeel, GCSAA’s director, government affairs, spent a busy week in Washington between December 9-13. The week started out with her participating in the SFIREG meeting at the U.S. EPA offices. The State FIFRA Issues Research and Evaluation Group (SFIREG) and it’s 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.
McKeel is the point of contact on GCSAA’s Government Affairs team for matters that deal with state and federal regulatory issues. She monitors any proposed rules coming out of the EPA regarding pesticide or fertilizer or water issues and make sure golf’s voice is heard on these issues. Plus, she monitors all the pesticide registration and registration review activities of the agency.
The SFIREG, which is focused on pesticide issues, was focused on several topics of interest to golf course management at the meeting: the national assessment of pollinator protection plans and pollinator issues; and the continuing rollout of the new Certified Pesticide Applicators Rule. Please be on the lookout for an article on the new changes to pesticide certification and training in the January 2020 issue of GCM (Advocacy column). The department will also host a webinar in the future to further explain the upcoming changes.
Attending the SFIREG meeting offered McKeel a chance to learn what compliance and enforcement issues are a focus of the 10 EPA regional offices and the 50 state lead agencies as well as a chance to network with state and federal pesticide regulatory officials.
Midweek, McKeel participated in the RISE Regulatory Affairs Committee meeting. She has been a longstanding member of this committee and has a chance to interact and network with those registrants responsible for providing chemical tools necessary for golf course management. The focus of committee discussions was to identify ways to strengthen the partnership between EPA and industry in order to ensure a smooth pesticide registration and registration review process. The RISE RAC also helps plan the annual CropLife America/RISE spring regulatory conference. EPA staff are invited to attend this conference in the spring to learn more about issues facing registrants and applicators of pesticides. The committee continues to host a “Labels Live” event at the conference that includes creating several stations offering hands on learning activities. Planning is underway for a great event in April.
The week ended with a focus on the 2020 National Golf Day and Community Service Project events. National Golf Day will be held on May 6 and the service project on May 5. Registration will kick off after the New Year off the We Are Golf website. National Park Service turf manager Michael Stachowicz left his position this past summer and the NGD CSP planning committee had a chance to meet his replacement Mr. James Snell, who is a 17-year member of the GCSAA. The committee is excited to be working with Snell, Finch Services, Inc., and the Mid-Atlantic Association of Golf Course Superintendents to finalize plans for this exciting service project, which just won the Group of the Year Volunteer Award from the NPS.
This was McKeel’s last trip away from headquarters of a very busy year and what a wonderful year it was. GCSAA’s Government Affairs Team has much to be thankful for. Now the department’s focus turns toward the Golf Industry Show in Orlando. We hope to see many of you there.