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California Pesticide Agency Convenes Sustainable Pest Management Work Group

by Jane Sooby |

California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has tapped a diverse group of experts to serve in its new Sustainable Pest Management (SPM) Work Group, which will advise DPR on how to implement a transition away from harmful chemicals–a transition that Governor Gavin Newson says is a high priority for the state.  

The SPM Work Group will pick up where the previous Alternatives to Chlorpyrifos Work Group left off and will guide state agencies in creating alternatives to the use of highly toxic synthetic pesticides. This will include increased research and education in organic pest management.

The state considers a revised mill fee assessment as the primary mechanism for funding this work. This revision does away with the current flat-rate pesticide mill fee and would instead base the fee on risk to human health. CCOF supports this approach that charges a lower fee to farmers using safer pesticides and is collaborating with a coalition of groups to identify mill fee funding priorities, including Cooperative Extension positions that focus on organic pest management, biocontrol, and insect ecology.

The SPM Work Group includes representatives from farms and businesses that have significant organic product lines, including Driscoll’s, Terranova Ranch, Campbell Soup Company, Taylor Farms, and Park Farms. Representatives from the University of California include the Cooperative Extension Small and Organic Farms Advisor Margaret Lloyd, UC Organic Agriculture Institute Director Houston Wilson, and the Berkeley Food Institute Executive Director Nina Ichikawa.

Also well represented are environmental and environmental justice groups, some of which emerged as organic allies last year during CCOF’s campaign to add an Organic Transition Option to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Healthy Soils Program. Representatives from these groups include Nayamin Martinez, executive director of the Central California Environmental Justice Network, and Margaret Reeves, senior scientist at Pesticide Action Network North America.

Veteran organic pest control advisor and biological control expert Ron Whitehurst of Rincon-Vitova Insectaries and Pam Marrone, founder of the biopesticide company Marrone Bio Innovations, were also appointed to the panel.

The members of the Sustainable Pest Management Work Group are as follows:

  • Jenny Broome, Driscoll’s
  • Don Cameron, Terranova Ranch
  • Casey Creamer, California Citrus Mutual
  • Jim Farrar, UC Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
  • Chris Geiger, City of San Francisco
  • Kim Harley, UC Berkeley
  • Lisa Herbert, Sutter County Agricultural Commissioner
  • Nina Ichikawa, Berkeley Food Institute
  • Dan Kaiser, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Susan Kegley, Pesticide Research Institute
  • Margaret Lloyd, UC Extension Small Farm Advisor
  • Suguet Lopez, Líderes Campesinas
  • Gabriele Ludwig, Almond Board of California
  • Pam Marrone, Chestnut Bio Advisors, Formerly Marrone Bio Innovations
  • Nayamin Martinez, Central California Environmental Justice Network
  • John McKeon, Taylor Farms
  • Cliff Ohmart, Pest Control Advisor (PCA)
  • Scott Park, Park Farms
  • Margaret Reeves, Pesticide Action Network
  • Taylor Roschen, California Farm Bureau
  • Sarah Ryan, Environmental Director Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians
  • Daniel Sonke, Campbell Soup Company
  • Paul Walgenbach, Bayer
  • Ron Whitehurst, Pest Control Advisor (PCA)
  • Houston Wilson, UC Organic Agriculture Institute
  • Jeanette Acosta, Weaving Earth

Additional background on the new SPM Work Group is found in a press release from DPR dated March 10, 2021.