Chava McKeel, GCSAA’s director of government affairs, participated in the June 1 virtual SFIREG meeting. 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.
EPA and state regulators discussed various issues including:
In 2019, states completed a survey of their managed pollinator protection plans (MP3s). In February 2020, EPA provided the Office of the Inspector General with a strategy to measure the national impact of MP3s. Results from the initial survey will serve as a baseline in order to identify changes over time and to enhance the effectiveness of MP3s in the future. EPA will also use the survey data as one line of evidence for assessing national impacts of efforts to minimize pesticide exposure to pollinators. Initial survey results indicated expanding the scope of MP3s, improving applicator training materials on pollinators, and incident reporting as potential focus areas for enhancing MP3s.
State Pesticide Preemption
State regulators from EPA Region 8 raised concerns about the potential impacts of efforts to reverse existing pesticide preemption laws. SFIREG will consider state pesticide preemption as a future agenda topic, and will survey its members to determine where preemption laws are currently in place and what concerns exist around preemption.
State regulators noted concerns about applicators’ access to PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic, though some state regulators are telling applicators they can use more protective PPE than what is designated on the label.
Illegal Pesticide Use in Bee Hives
State regulators from EPA Region 4 presented a paper to SFIREG about illegal pesticide use within bee hives to control mites and other pests of honeybees. The paper also encourages EPA to increase enforcement of products targeting bee pests. Other state regulators shared these concerns, and SFIREG requested its Pesticide Operations and Management (POM) consider the paper.
State regulators are continuing to monitor dicamba issues and are seeking to understand to what extent applicators have adopted new product label restrictions. EPA intends to hold an open dialogue with the states to understand how the label is used to inform the Agency’s decisions as it moves into the mitigation phase of its dicamba assessments.
For any questions about the work of the SFIREG, please contact Chava McKeel at (800) 472-7878.