On Monday, July 10, Bob Helland, GCSAA director of congressional and federal affairs, addressed the Congressional Western Caucus about GCSAA’s best management practices (BMP) efforts at the national, state and facility level. Helland joined GCSAA’s allies in the RISE Coalition (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) to speak about specialty pesticides and fertilizer use across the western states and the need to ensure their access to the green industry, including golf. Helland used this as an opportunity to focus on GCSAA’s nationwide BMP program and our efforts underway to implement BMPs at the facility level.
More than 30 congressional staffers from the 17 western states participated in this briefing. Megan Provost, president of RISE, led off the discussion with an overview of federal pesticide laws. Both the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) establish pesticide and registration regulatory regime based on the evaluation of scientific data and assessment of risks and benefits of a pesticide’s use. Approved pesticides must be used according to the label and the label is the law. Helland and the third panelist, John Goldberg, a former staff director of the House Agriculture Committee who represents the American Mosquito Control Association, then spoke of how their industries were both rising to the challenges presented and meeting the opportunities created.
For Helland, this was an opportunity to talk about GCSAA’s BMP program. He described how the initial efforts by the Florida Golf Course Superintendents Association (FGCSA) resulted in three BMP manuals in Florida on fertilizer pant operation, agrichemical handling and equipment maintenance on farms and golf courses. He then spoke of GCSAA’s successful efforts to create a nationwide BMP template that has been implemented in all 50 states. He also spoke of the BMP planning guide that is an online tool for every member golf facility. Our BMP efforts have helped reduce nutrient use by golf courses nationwide, including a 34% reduction in the use of nitrogen and a 53% reduction in the use of phosphate. And given the ongoing drought concerns in the western states, Helland also discussed how national golf course water use has dropped 29% since 2005, with two-thirds of this the result of facilities applying water more efficiently.
This was a great opportunity for GCSAA to represent golf’s environmental stewardship efforts in the halls of Congress.