WSSA Asks Congress to Rescind Farm Bill Change

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Source: Weed Science Society of America

The Weed Science Society of America has petitioned Congress to rescind a last-minute change to the recently approved 2008 Farm Bill that threatens Extension Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Programs throughout the United States.

Extension IPM programs run by the nation's land grant universities make an essential contribution to the common good. They provide training and advice to help us protect our food supply, minimize human health risks, promote judicious pesticide use, conserve environmental resources and improve the profitability of the nation's farmers.

Historically, this national network has been funded by the Farm Bill at an average of approximately $135,000 per state each year. This modest investment produces far-reaching results by enabling a nationwide IPM infrastructure that supports seamless information sharing and knowledge transfer.

But a last-minute amendment to the 2008 Farm Bill threatens the very existence of many of the extension programs that support farmers and homeowners across the country. For the first time in the 30-year history of Extension IPM, funds will not be allocated to universities in each state on a proportional basis. Instead, a limited number of grants will be awarded competitively by the Secretary of Agriculture.

This change erodes the national nature of the IPM network and is expected to leave entire regions of the country without the grower training and outreach needed to manage pests and weeds effectively or to address problems that are unique to a particular region or locale.

"The new funding model reduces our capacity to respond quickly and effectively to emerging pest threats," said Lee Van Wychen, WSSA science policy advisor. "That means critical expertise will wither away in states that lose funding, leaving entire regions of the country vulnerable to insects, diseases and weeds that know no geographical boundaries."

Visit the Weed Science Society of America's Web site for further background on the change and what you can do to help.

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